The Earl of Limerick is hoping to convince sitting hereditary peers to support his bid to join them in the House of Lords by presenting them with a personal statement in the form of a limerick poem.
The Earl is taking part in a hereditary peer by-election — the system by which vacancies left by the death of a sitting hereditary peer is filled.
The by-elections are a hangover from Tony Blair’s reform of the House of Lords in 1992 when Blair booted out all but 92 of the unelected hereditary peers.
When one of those peers dies, a by-election is held to replace them. Any hereditary peer can run for the vacancy, but only sitting peers from the party of the person who has died can vote in the election to select them.
Here is the personal statement written by the Earl of Limerick in his application for the seat left by the death of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu:
The Upper House knows none so queer
A creature as the Seatless Peer.
Flamingo-like he stands all day
With no support to hold his sway.
And waits with covert eagerness
For ninety-two to be one less.
Then on to hustings he must pace
Once more to plead his special case.
Noble Lordships, spare a thought
For one so vertically distraught,
And from your seats so well entrenched,
Please vote that mine may be embenched
The Earl isn’t the only peer to offer a bizarre personal statement. In 2011, Lord Ampthill simply submitted a list of his likes and dislikes. It turns out he is a fan of oak furniture:
United Kingdom, understatement, rain, Hornblower, the law, Georgette Heyer, Spain,
immigration, tax incentives, liberality, history, oak furniture, family, belonging, the
Commonwealth, national service, apprenticeships, C of E, Credence, local government,
subsidiarity, peonies, quiet and competent government
student debt, food imports, wind turbines, social media, quangocracy, fireworks,
prejudice, bus lanes, intolerance, euro integration, running down and misdirecting our
armed forces, disloyalty
I have been an elected councillor since 1999
In 2014 Lord Sudley promised to avenge one of his ancestors:
In 1900 4th Lord Sudeley was made bankrupt and lost his seat in the House of Lords
because his creditors were allowed to enlarge their claims without their being
independently and adequately audited. Sudeley recovered his seat and used it to
provide us with guide lecturers for museums. I would like to introduce a Bill to
prevent any further creditors from enlarging their claims in the same way.
While Lord Biddulph simply wrote:
It would be an honour to serve.
Despite the lighthearted nature of the personal statements, many people feel these by-elections that allow hereditary peers to still enter the House of Lords are an affront to democracy.
The Liberal Democrats tried to move the House of Lords to a more democratic chamber with the 2012 House of Lords Reform Bill, but the Bill was dropped following opposition from the Conservative Party.
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