HL Deb 08 June 1883 vol 280 cc15-24

Order of the Day for the Report of Amendments to be received, read.

Amendments reported accordingly.

Clause 1 (Roll of Peerages and Peers of Scotland to be annually prepared).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendment made:—In page 1, line 15, after ("annexed") insert ("and").

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 (Form of Election Roll).


regretted the noble Duke was not there to explain his own Amendment; but the object of it was to bring the 2nd clause of the Bill into conformity with the 8th clause. As it at present stood, it would have the effect, no doubt unintentional on the part of the noble and learned Earl, of excluding one Peer, and one only; and it seemed specially directed against that noble Lord. He trusted, therefore, that this Amendment would be accepted.

Amendment moved, in page 1, line 29, to leave out ("any peer") and insert ("two or more peers.")—(The Earl of Stair.)


, in opposing the Amendment, said, he thought it would go extremely far to defeat the object in view under the Bill. The Committee of 1882, presided over by the Lord Justice Clerk, made this recommendation upon the subject and manner of preparing the Election Roll, and it had been followed in the present Bill. The Committee recommended that the Roll should be prepared by the Lord Clerk Register in the first instance, and that he should enter on it the name of every Peer who had voted at the election of Representative Peers without any objection or protest having been at any time made or taken against his right of voting within the last 20 years, and also the name of every Peer whose right had been considered and sustained by the House of Lords. The Committee went on to say, in the next paragraph— This proceeding would very nearly embrace the whole existing Peerage of Scotland, for the cases of protest daring the period in question are few. Their Lordships would observe that its Committee recommended omissions of any Peer against whom there was any protest recorded, unless the House of Lords had sustained the claim; and the Bill which was last year introduced by his noble Friend (the Earl of Galloway) followed that proposition, and also laid down that the Roll should not contain the name of any Peer against whom any protest had been taken. There would be no injustice to any gentleman or nobleman, if such there were, whose name would be omitted by reason of a protest; because the Bill provided a simple and straightforward means by which ho could get his name inserted upon the Roll by Petition to the Crown, if he were able to establish his claim. It had beers said by the noble Earl that the Bill would only exclude one individual; but he believed the effect of the Amendment, if adopted, might be to introduce into the first Roll two Earls of Breadalbane, two Earls of Eglinton, two Lords Belhaven, and two Earls of Mar. He (the Lord Chancellor) supposed that the last was the only name which was thought by the noble Earl (the Earl of Stair) to be affected by the Amendment; but it would be seen that that was not so. He was not prepared to put the name of a person upon the Roll who had not proved his title. Taking up the other cases he had mentioned in the order of time, in the year 1870 a gentleman, a Relative of his own, claimed the Peerage of Belhaven, and voted in respect of that Peerage, and only one protest was recorded against him, and no protest had been recorded against him at any subsequent time, because the House of Lords determined that another person was entitled to the Peerage; but if this Amendment were adopted, it would be the duty of the Lord Clerk Register to put upon the Roll, in addition to that of Lord Belhaven, who had established his right by Resolution of the House, the name of his Relative, who was the unsuccessful claimant to the Peerage. Coming to the next case, which was still more singular, in 1872 a person, not the present Earl, claimed the title of Breadalbane, and four protests wore recorded against him. The consequence was that, under the Act of 1847, the matter was reported to the House, and the House was called upon to establish his claim. The claimant took no steps in the matter, and it fell to the ground. The gentleman, in 1876, again appeared, and again voted, and only one protest was recorded against him. He did the same in 1879, and again only one protest was recorded against him; and if this Amendment were adopted, it would be necessary to put the name of this gentleman upon the Roll, as claiming to be Earl of Breadalbane. What the use was of making out a Roll of that sort he (the Lord Chancellor) did not know. The third case was that of the title of Eglinton. In 1874 a gentleman, not the present Lord Eglinton, voted, and one protest was recorded against him. In 1876 he did the same thing, and only one protest was recorded, and a similar thing occurred in 1880. Under this Amendment, that gentleman's name would be put upon the Roll, as well as that of the present Earl. Then he came to the case of a gentleman whom ho always would speak of with respect and sympathy, and whom he should as readily as any man congratulate, if he should, in the proper and regular course, bring forward a claim to the ancient Earldom of Mar, and succeed in establishing it on proper evidence. If there ever was a claim to a Peerage, since the world began, which was surrounded with difficulty, it was certainly that claim. It was claimed six times by one gentleman, and on each occasion only one protest was made. After the adjudication in favour of Lord Kellie, that gentleman had never presented himself again, so as to give any opportunity for more than one protest. It was perfectly obvious that, if they were to have a Roll at all, they would stultify themselves, and set about it in the most extraordinary manner, if they were to insist on putting upon the first Roll the names of three claimants, as to whom no human being had any ground for believing that they had any right to be there, and of another, whose right was not only established or un- controverted, but was as much the reverse as anything possibly could be. He ventured to suggest that their Lordships should not accept the Amendment.


said, that the Amendment would make it lawful for the Lord Clerk Register to place on the Roll the name of the gentleman who claimed the ancient Earldom of Mar. His case really stood by itself. It must be remembered that, in order to make these protests valid, they must be handed in by Peers; and, so far as he was aware, that had not been done in any of the cases cited by the noble and learned Earl (the Lord Chancellor).


said, that was not so; for, if his information was correct, every one of the protests were handed in by Peers.


was understood to corroborate what had been said by the noble Earl behind him (the Earl of Kintore).


said, that his information was derived from a Return made to the House itself.


said, he believed that the noble and learned Earl upon the Woolsack had been misinformed, and that the whole effect of the Bill would be to keep off the Roll one heir of his uncle, who, undoubtedly, was Earl of Mar. The gentleman in question did all that any of them could have done to take up his title; he had been served heir to his uncle, had matriculated his arms in the Herald's College, and had voted. at elections in 1868, 1870, 1872, and 1874; and in no case was more than one protest recorded against him. Surely, it would be fair and right to allow his name to go on the Roll; and if he was not the Peer he claimed to be, anyone who had a better title should come forward and prove his claim. If, by this side-wind, they should keep one individual off the Roll, their Lordships would agree with him, it was not a course which should be taken.


said, that, on former occasions, he had always avoided saying anything when a question of this kind was raised; but, really, after the remarks which had been made by the noble Earl (the Earl of Kintore), he felt bound to utter a few words. He should like to know when that House had said ho had no title to be on the Roll? There was only one title on the Roll, and that he claimed, on the ground that the ancient title had come to an end. The House of Lords, in their decision, did not, however, say that the ancient Earldom had come to an end; and it was, therefore, possible for anyone to come forward and say he had a right to claim it. But, in order to do so, he would have to prove that the ancient Earldom existed, that it descended to heirs general, and that he was the heir-general. He (the Earl of Mar and Kellie) denied that the gentleman who claimed it could fulfil any of these conditions; but he would be extremely obliged to him if he could do so in regard to the first two, because then he (the Earl of Mar) should at once claim it on the ground of the subsequent charter, which limited the title to heirs male.


said, he wished to point out that the clause, as it stood at the present moment, would embrace the persons to whom the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack had alluded, with the one exception of the owner of the ancient Earldom of Mar. He (the Earl of Galloway) did not know against whom the Bill was directed, if not against the owner of this ancient Earldom. The noble and learned Earl had certainly been misinformed, for none of those holding the titles of Belhaven, Breadalbane, or Eglinton, to whom he had referred, had been protested against by a Peer. As the House was thus being entirely misled by these misrepresentations of the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack, he (the Earl of Galloway) hoped the noble Earl (the Earl of Stair) would take the sense of the House on the Amendment which he had moved in the absence of the noble Duke (the Duke of Sutherland), in whose name it stood, in which case he should certainly support him.


said, he only rose because, having gone upon the Committee which sat upon this subject last year without knowing any of the parties concerned in the Mar case, he had formed a very decided opinion upon the point now at issue. The noble and learned Earl upon the Woolsack might, indeed, have shown that the Amendment proposed to his clause would still leave it defective; but the consequence of leaving it in its present shape would be that a gentleman would be struck off the Roll merely because one individual Peer had protested against him, that Peer being the one person who had claimed his title, and had not got it. For their Lordships ought to recollect that the Peerage granted to the noble Earl (the Earl of Mar and Kellie) was expressly stated not to be the ancient Earldom of Mar, but a Peerage supposed to have been created in 1565. The present holder of the ancient title had succeeded his uncle as heir-general; and it was the fact that, when the attainder was taken off in 1824, the Peerage was restored to an heir who succeeded through his mother. The present holder bad done all that was required of him on succeeding to the title; and if he was to be struck off the Roll as proposed, their Lordships would, by that retrospective action, do an act of grave injustice.


said, that the object of the Bill was to prevent unpleasant disputes arising at the election of Scotch Peers. It was desirable that a Roll should be provided, and under the Bill that would be done; and no person would be allowed to be on it, or have a right to vote, unless he had proved his claim to be there. But it was now proposed to put two persons of the same name on the Roll, in order that, at the very next election of Scotch Peers, a dispute might arise. As to the gentleman who claimed the ancient Earldom of Mar, all he (the Earl of Redesdale) could say was, that he had never attempted to make good that claim, although he had been invited to do so.


, interposing, rose to Order, and asked where all this discussion was to end? He was afraid it never would do so if they went into the question of the ancient Earldom of Mar. He deprecated any further discussion upon that subject, for there were many advocates who might be interested in it, and the question had been disposed of by their Lordships' House.


said, he could assure his noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) that he had no wish to weary the House, and would, therefore, say no more upon the matter.


said, the result of the Bill, as it now stood, bore a personal, and, he ventured to say, an invidious character, because the clause they were now discussing would have this effect. It would affect one Scottish Peer, and one only; and, if the clause were not amended, his name would not be put upon the Roll. If the clause were amended, it would be open to the noble Earl who had protested before, and who was the only protestor against the Earl of Mar being on the Roll, and to any other Peer, to come forward and protest. The Peer in question, Mr. Good-eve Erskine, who, on the death of his uncle, was put upon the Roll as a Peer, and whose vote at the Election of Representative Peers had been received several times, would, by this Bill, be struck off the Roll, though he had only been protested against once; whereas the noble Earl who protested against him (the Earl of Mar and Kellie) had been protested against 41 times, and 26 Peers had entered a protest against the course taken in 1881. It would be well if, by adopting the Amendment, they wore to strike out any invidious personal matters.


said, he was surprised at the noble Earl who had last spoken (the Earl of Wemyss) having referred to Mr. Goodeve Erskine as an Earl. That gentleman had claimed, in the Court of Session, the estate of the noble Earl behind him (Lord Elphinstone); but he was not allowed to appear as Earl of Mar. He appealed to the House of Lords, where he was told, however, he must claim as Mr. Goodeve Erskine, and not as Earl of Mar. Further, he appealed to the Home Secretary for precedence, as Earl's daughters, for his sisters; but that right hon. Gentleman, after taking the opinion of the Heralds' Office, refused the request.


That is not the case.

A noble LORD

I must call the noble Earl to Order; this sort of language is not proper to be used in this House.


, continuing, said, he could prove what he was saying by documents, which could not be gainsaid. Then Mr. Erskine was presented at Court, under the title of the Earl of Mar, and the Lord Chamberlain's Office cancelled the presentation; and yet, after all that, they were now asked by this Amendment to say that Mr. Erskine was a Peer. He hoped the Amendment would not be supported.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 51; Not-Contents 27: Majority 24.

Selborne, E. (L. Chancellor.) Aveland, L.
Balinhard,L.(E. Southesk.)
Grafton, D. Braye, L.
Richmond, D. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Somerset, D. Cottosloe, L.
Bath M. Douglas, L. (E. Home.)
Elphinstone, L.
Bandon, E. Fitzgerald, L.
Derby, E. Forbes, L.
Granville, E. Hammond, L.
Kimberley, E. Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)
Leven and Melville, E.
Mar and Kellie, E. Houghton, L.
Milltown, E. Leconfreld, L.
Morley, E. Loftus, L. (M. Ely.)
Northbrook, E. Lyttelton, L.
Ravensworth, E. Monson, L. [Teller.]
Redesdale, E. Mount-Temple, L.
Selkirk, E. O'Hagan, L.
Sydney, E. Ramsay, L.(E. Dalhousie.)
Eversley, V. Reay, L.
Hawarden, V. Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.) Saltoun, L.
Powerscourt, V. Saye and Sele, L.
Sherbrooke, V. Shute, L. (V. Barrinngton.)
Alcester, L. Sudeley, L. [Teller.]
Ampthill, L. Thurlow, L.
Bristol, M. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
Bute, M.
Ellenborough, L.
Ashburnham, E. Forester, L.
Denbigh, E. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Devon, E.
Morton, E. Oxenfoord, L.(E. Stair.) [Teller.]
Powis, E.
Sandwich, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Sondes, E. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.) [Teller.]
Sidmouth, V.
Abinger, L. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Brabourne, L. Wemyss,L.(E. Wemyss.)
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Wentworth, L.
Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.) Wimborne, L.
Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.) Zouche of Haryng worth, L.

Resolved in the negative.

On the Motion of The LORD CHAN CELLOR the following Amendments made:—In page 1, line 29, leave out ("present and"); in page 2, line 6, leave out ("before"); and in line 7, after ("herein") insert ("before.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to,

Clause 4 (Names on Roll only to be called at elections).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendment made:—In page 2, line 40, leave out ("title") and insert ("titles.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 (Proceedings by heirs of deceased persons).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendments made:—In page 3, line 9, after ("when") leave out ("Such Roll is"), and insert ("this Act was passed, or when the Election Roll for the time being in force"); and in line 16, leave out ("thereupon.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7 (Petitions as to rights of peerage and precedency, and to correct errors in Roll).


, in moving, as an addition to the clause, a Proviso that, before any order should be issued by the House of Lords, altering the order of precedence on the Election Roll on the Report of the Committee of Privileges, such Report, together with the Evidence upon which it rests, should have been presented to the House, and laid upon the Table, not less than one month from the date of its presentation, said, it would in no way take away any power from their Lordships under the Statute to alter the Union Roll on a Report of the Committee of Privileges. But, before that was done, he asked that they should not issue any order with reference to the alteration of the order of precedence without the Report and Evidence having been laid on the Table of the House, that time might be given for publicity, say not less than one month before any action was taken.

Amendment moved, In page 4, line 20, at the end of clause to add — "Provided also, that before any order shall be issued by the House of Lords altering the order of precedency on the Election Roll on the report of the Committee of Privileges, such report, together with the evidence upon which it rests, shall have been presented to the House and lain upon the Table not less than one month from the date of its presentation."—(The Earl of Wemyss.)


said, he saw no objection to the Amendment, and would, therefore, accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 (Protests).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendments made:—In page 4, line 26, after ("election") insert— ("Or by any such peer in the name and on behalf of any other peer voting by proxy at such election");

In lines 28 and 29, leave out ("present") in line 28, and ("and") in line 29; and in line 34, leave out ("present and.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Bill to be read 3a on Tuesday next; and to be printed as amended. (No. 84.)