HL Deb 19 March 1832 vol 11 cc399-401
The Earl of Rosebery

, in moving, pursuant to notice, for a Select Committee to inquire into the laws and regulations now subsisting for the election of the Representative Peers for Scotland, stated, that he should occupy the time of the House for only a few minutes, not only because the subject, although of great interest to the Peerage of that division of the kingdom, and of very considerable public importance, was not of an attractive nature to a majority of their Lordships, but because he thought that any lengthened remarks or arguments would come better after the Committee had made a Report, than previous to their appointment. He requested, however, to recall to the recollection of the House that ten years ago he had moved certain Resolutions, for the purpose of placing on a more regular footing the right of voting at the election of Peers for Scotland, which had received the unanimous concurrence of their Lord-ships. These Resolutions, as far as they went, had been found to produce advantageous effects; but they did not, on the one hand, embrace all the cases liable to an abusive exercise of the privilege of voting as a Scottish Peer, more particularly with reference to the many dormant Peerages belonging to Scotland, the assumption of which, by individuals, without competent authority, there was no means of preventing; but which it was highly desirable, by some proper method, should not be permitted, until the claim of the individual had been established, prior to his voting at any election of a Representative Peer. On the other hand, it had been thought that to oblige persons succeeding collaterately, as was ordered by the Resolutions of 1822, to be at the expense and trouble of coming to the Bar of the House to prove their right to their titles, was, in some cases, at least, a considerable hardship, which might be obviated by an arrangement less onerous to individuals, without trenching on the principle or object of those Resolutions, which it was his wish, and he believed it would be the desire of the House, to extend, and by no means to counteract, or diminish. It had occurred to him, and others, more fit than himself to form a correct opinion on this point, coincided with him in thinking, that the most judicious course to pursue by which the double object to be attained of securing, by a more comprehensive and perfect system of regulation, the rights of the Peerage of Scotland, with a less burthensome mode of doing this than by calling on individuals to prove their pedigree in the first instance at the Bar of the House, would be by a Select Committee inquiring into this matter, and recommending a series of provisions for this purpose to their Lordships. Other points of a subordinate description relating to their elections required consideration, among which the petition of the Earl of Mar, complaining that his List was rejected at the general election in June last, although he held it was an instrument valid by the law of Scotland, was one. He proposed that this, with the petition of the Marchioness of Downshire, complaining of the assumption of the Earldom of Stirling by Mr. Humphreys Alexander, and his voting in that character, should be referred to the Committee which he was about to move for. If that Committee were granted, its Report would have the advantage of being re-considered in the Committee of Privileges, and the decision of the latter would be subject to the revision of the House. The noble Earl concluded by moving that a Select Committee be appointed to take into consideration the laws and regulations now in force relating to Representative Peers for Scotland, and that it Report its opinion thereupon to the House.

Committee appointed accordingly.

The following paper referred to it. The petition of the Earl of Mar, complaining that his List was rejected at the general election in June, 1831; and, also, the petition of the Marchioness Dowager of Down-shire, Baroness Sandys, complaining that Mr. Humphreys Alexander has assumed the Earldom of Stirling without right or authority; and, also, copy of the Union Roll of Peers of Scotland, and a list of Peers voting at elections since 1800.

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