Hereditary Peer’s lawsuit could wipe 10 years of law from the Statute Book!

Peter Mandelson - Lords

Peter Mandelson is about the receive a letter from 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' to beat them all!

A little known hereditary peer, Lord Mereworth, has written to Peter Mandelson, in his role as Lord President of the Privy Council, to ask whether his disbarment, and that of other hereditary peers, was in fact legal. 

Lord Mereworth, who was denied his seat in the upper house as a consequence of the House of Lords Act in 1999, has served a protocol letter, claiming that the law is unenforceable. It is a first salvo before mounting a judicial review in the high court.

The document says the 1999 act failed to revoke the “letters patent”, the act under which the then King, George V, granted a hereditary peerage to Mereworth’s grandfather. The protocol letter states: “It is stated expressly in the letters that George V bound his successors, and it is axiomatic that any attempt to alter the terms or effect of the letters would be a matter of moment for those successors.”

It is difficult to gauge the level to which the Government should take this matter seriously, but a great deal of legislation could be put under threat if this petition is credible.

Whatever the credibility of the claim, the prospect of a democratically elected government being undermined by a judicial review of an Act of Parliament, and potentially disqualifying all the laws that have passed through House of Lords since, is unconscionable.

According to The Guardian’s  report the Government is taking the letter very seriously. 

As an afterthought those people who have since been elected to the lower house, namely John Thurso, but still retain their hereditary title could see themselves being disqualified from the lower house by their re-instalment in the House of Lords.


Postal Strikes can be dangerous – they can delay ears in the post!

John Paul Getty III was kidnapped on 21st October 1973, his ear has delayed in the post until November 8th due to an Itlaian postal strike

John Paul Getty III was kidnapped on 21st October 1973, his ear was delayed in the post until November 8th due to an Italian postal strike

As we enter a major postal strike, spare a thought for John Paul Getty III.  Aged 18 he was kidnapped in Rome on this day, 21st October, in 1973.

A ransom demand was sent to his father for $17 million to ensure his safe return.  A lock of his hair and his right ear were sent in the post to prove that it was not a hoax.

Unfortunately, because of an Italian postal strike, the ear and the ransom note were delayed in the post until 8th November!

To ensure that there was no further mutilation $3.2 million should be paid immediately, the note read:

“This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits.”

As you will have noticed the deadline had expired by the time the note arrived. But, John Paul (Snr) agreed to pay as long as his son (Jnr) repaid him at an interest rate of 4%. There was some reluctance for them to pay at all, by all accounts, because the boy (III) was quite wilful, and there was a great deal of suspicion that the whole event was a hoax, orchestrated by him.

Eventually John Paul III was found in Southern Italy in December, without his ear.

So, if there is one positive thing to come out of postal strikes, it is a particularly bad time to send ransom notes, so we might hopefully see a drop in kidnappings during them.

Lord Mandelson might, however, encourage any potential kidnappers to use another means of communication to send the ransom notes.

Labour’s Choices are still there…

Not given up the fight

Mandelson - not given up the fight

I enjoyed watching Labour’s Brighton conference last week. One of the odd aspects of watching other parties’ conferences, when you have been to as many of your own party’s ,as I have, leaves you wondering if the coverage is credible, or reliable.

For the first time ever a close friend of mine was at the Labour conference and regularly spoke to me about the ‘mood’ of the delegates.

The impression I got, against my expectations, was that with figures like Peter Mandelson the party had not lost its will to survive the General Election and was keen to start a fight back against the presumption of the press, notably The Sun, that the Labour Party is doomed at the election.

One of the key agendas that the party was promoting was that it still could act as a radical, vehicle of change that the Conservatives, in particular, are incapable of delivering.

I, for one, would never argue that the Conservative Party is ever going to be a vehicle of positive change and was interested to hear what Labour were promoting as their big idea to offer this next step forward.

It appeared to be ‘the choice agenda’. This policy, apparently meant to give people greater decision-making authority over such issues as sending their children to a school of their choice or having an operation in a ward of their choice is a reasonable suggestion, but it leaves me completely cold.

Having worked in local goverment, and been on the margins of government I cannot help but think that civil servants would not be able to grasp the concept and more importantly it does not appeal to me, as it feels gimmicky.

I recently became a vegetarian and am feeling much better about what I eat than I ever have, and this involved a choice that no one else had a say in. I have reduced my choices when I go food shopping and when I dine out, but all the same I am happier as a consequence.

Choice is not a credible replacement for being right and living within the principles people set themselves. My parents sent me to private school; a choice I am very grateful for. But in the public sector it is important to improve the quality of all public institutions rather than simply hoping that by people moving from one provider to another they will feel ‘better’.

A change is not as good as the best!