A loss to the House

Lord Norton

2015 saw the death of a number of senior peers.  I have written about the losses in a post on my own blog.  One of the most notable was that of Lord Howe of Aberavon.  Geoffrey Howe was a leading Cabinet minister – Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons – before his dramatic resignation in 1990 triggered the events leading to Margaret Thatcher’s loss of the Conservative party leadership and the premiership.

Once elevated to the Lords, he took to the House (in a way that Margaret Thatcher did not) and was a regular contributor to proceedings.  His quiet voice and demeanour masked a steely determination.  Once he was persuaded that a cause needed to be pursued, he was tireless in pursuit of it.  He was a leading figure in arguing the case for the existing House of Lords.  He was active in the House until he retired shortly before his death.  He could regularly be seen walking through the Royal Gallery on the way from his office to the chamber, where he took his place on the privy council bench.  Although he could have opted for a quiet life many years ago, he continued to contribute to debates on a range of issues.  He was a prime example of a true public servant.

6 comments for “A loss to the House

  1. tizres
    04/01/2016 at 3:05 pm

    Although ‘privy council bench’ is self-explanatory, it’s a term I haven’t come across before. How many PCs are there in the HoL?

    While searching for the term above, I discovered the following site: http://www.digiminster.com/ Given the domain name, is free speech in the Palace being flogged off?

    • 04/01/2016 at 4:27 pm

      Tizres, you raise an interesting point. I have read in a newspaper, so it may not be true, that the number of PCs has been growing rapidly because some new appointees are enrolled as a political reward. They do not have to be members of either the Lords or the Commons. It seems to me that this is debasing the currency.
      I hope somebody with more knowledge than me will answer your question but until then let me say that PCs in the House of Lords are a combination of ex officio holders and those appointed because of their government service. For example, the three senior bishops are ex officio PCs. Lord Henley is a PC because he joined Lady Thatcher’s government in 1989.
      Christopher Bellew

    • James Hand
      05/01/2016 at 11:42 pm

      Very roughly 230 or so and peers make up just over a third or thereabouts of the PC – but regularly active peers and Privy Councillors would be a different figure.

  2. MilesJSD
    05/01/2016 at 10:17 pm

    Thank you, for the service of the noble Geoffrey Howe;
    and for the valediction:
    “He was a prime example of a true public servant”.

    The democratic spirit of “scrutiny”, however, must frame the inference
    “So most of ‘the Rest’ are not ?” – [“Prime examples of true public service ?”]

  3. maude elwes
    15/01/2016 at 8:53 pm

    The absolute hypocricy this insidious example of anti democracy is. And to top it off, 10 more Lib/Dem peers who already stuff the upper chamber with way too many after their shambles at election. How many UKIP members made it?

    The people of this country must make a serious effort to end this farce from the ground up. Without that move none of us have anything near representation in our ruling house.

    • lord Blagger
      20/01/2016 at 3:53 pm

      Spot on Maude.

      But remember, you should do as you are told, not do as the Peers do.

      Is Lord Coke back on the expense train I wonder?

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