HC Deb 13 February 1973 vol 850 cc1140-1
Q4. Mr. Dormand

asked the Prime Minister what recent representations have been made to him on his responsibilities for honours lists; and what reply he has sent.

The Prime Minister

I receive many suggestions of candidates for inclusion in honours lists. In general, I reply that these will be carefully considered. I receive very few representations about my responsibilities for recommending honours to the Queen; and those which I do receive mostly take the form of comments on individual recommendations, to which I reply as seems appropriate in each case.

Mr. Dormand

Will the Prime Minister accept that I believe that many worthy people have had their work recognised through the honours system? Is he aware, however, that there is a growing feeling in the country that honours lists are becoming irrelevant and even unfair? Will the Prime Minister take steps to see that the system is radically modified, or even consider its abolition?

The Prime Minister

No, I would not do that, and if the hon. Member is asking me about representations I receive, they do not include representations to that effect. On the other hand, I would be disturbed if the hon. Member thought that the system was unfair. It would be true to say that successive Prime Ministers have done their utmost to ensure that this is not the case.

Mr. Rost

Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that when the time comes to offer an honour to the Leader of the Opposition, it will not be granted for his services towards European unity?

Mr. Leonard

Irrespective of the wider question of whether the honours list fulfils a useful rôle, will the Prime Minister consider the appropriateness of some of the honours handed out? Is it consonant with our membership of the Commonwealth that the Order of the British Empire should be continued? What justification can there be in 1973 for dishing out mediaeval titles like knights and barons?

The Prime Minister

If there is to be an honours list, titles of this kind are necessary. Many honours have an historical basis, and I think that people wish that basis to be maintained rather than that we should try to create fresh honours on each occasion.

Mr. Marten

What is the Prime Minister's view on hereditary peerages?

The Prime Minister

I made my view on hereditary peerages clear on 10th November 1970, a few months after I became Prime Minister. I said then that the institution of life peerages had made it inappropriate to recommend the creation of new hereditary peerages as a normal rule, but I did not exclude the possibility of doing so in special cases.

Forward to