THE LORD CHANCELLOR rose, pursuant to notice, to move a Resolution with respect to the petitions of peers claiming a right to vote at the election of representative peers for Ireland, and said that in those cases in which the heir to a peerage in this country applied for a writ to enable him to take his seat in their Lordships' House, the course taken was simply to apply—nominally to the Crown, but, practically speaking, to the Lord Chancellor, who merely required that evidence of the marriage of the parents of the applicant should be produced, the expense of the whole proceeding amounting to from £5 to £10 only. When, however, a person succeeded to an Irish peerage, and claimed, not a seat in that House, but merely to have a record made of his right to vote at the election of representative Peers for Ireland, he had to pay, instead of £5 or £10, a sum amounting to between £100 and £150. That was a state of things which, in his opinion, called for a remedy, and the Select Committee which had last year sat to consider the subject had recommended that a measure should be introduced to Parliament with the view of removing the hardship to which he referred. He, however, having directed his attention to the matter, had come to the conclusion that it was not necessary to resort to legislation in order to accomplish that object. The matter was entirely within their Lordships' power. By the Act of Union all questions affecting the right to vote at elections of Irish Peers were to be decided by the House of Lords, and Orders of the House were drawn up at the time to govern the proceedings. A petition was presented; that petition was referred to a Committee of Privileges, and on that Committee it was usual for them to hear the party and his evidence by counsel at the bar. The consequence of that was, that very great expense was unnecessarily incurred. In ordinary cases there would be no more difficulty in determining who was the heir in the case of a claim to vote for a representative Peer than there would be in determining the heir of an English Peer who had the hereditary right to a seat it that House, and he thought that it would be desirable to assimilate the procedure in the two cases. The noble and learned Lord concluded by moving the following Resolution:—
That all Petitions claiming a Right to Vote at the Election of Representative Peers for Ireland, by virtue of Peerages under which a Right to vote has been admitted by the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, be referred to The Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal to consider and report thereupon; and The Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper is upon such Reference to consider the Matter of the said Petition, and to make his Report thereupon to the House.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
complained of the burdens imposed upon the Irish Peers, and supported the Resolution.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, he thought that Legislative authority was necessary. The Act of Union directed that the claim should be decided by a Committee of Privileges, and did not contemplate the delegation of such a power to an individual, not even to the Lord Chancellor; and, by adopting this Resolution great difficulty would arise, and a most dangerous precedent be set. The matter ought to be referred to a Committee of Privileges, which, in fact, was the whole House, with this difference, that while three Members formed a House, seven Members were necessary to form a Committee of Privileges.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that he did not propose that the House should be bound by the Report of the Lord Chancellor; the House could come to such conclusion as it might think fit.
§ On Question, Resolved in the affirmative; and the said Resolution ordered to be added to the Roll of Standing Orders.