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Three Tory aristocrats get Parliament seats for life in election where 36 people voted

Mirror logo Mirror 17/06/2021 Mikey Smith

Three Tory aristocrats will be allowed to make laws for life after being elected by just 36 people, from an all-male list of candidates.

Lord Sandhurst, the Earl of Leicester and Lord Altrincham will take seats in the House of Lords as ludicrous hereditary peer elections resumed, after being paused since last March because of Covid-19.

A total of 36 votes were cast by Conservative hereditary peers in the exclusive electronic poll, conducted using the single transferable vote system and carried out by Civica Election Services, formerly Electoral Reform Services.

The by-election, in which 21 candidates contested the three available places, followed the retirement of both the Earl of Selbourne and Lord Denham and the non-attendance of Lord Selsdon.

Lord Sandhurst practiced as a QC until retirement in 2019 and had served as chairman of the Bar Council and as a deputy High Court judge.

In his candidature statement, he said: "Living in Putney I will commit full time and loyally."

After a six-year stint in the army, the Earl of Leicester had a 28-year career "developing sustainable businesses" in Norfolk and has also served on the boards of six charities.

a man wearing a suit and tie: The Earl of Leicester - pictured in 2000 © Press Association The Earl of Leicester - pictured in 2000

In his election pitch, he said: "I now have time to serve my country and apply this experience to the House of Lords, an institution which I believe is the most effective reforming chamber in the western world."

Lord Altrincham, 55, worked for Goldman Sachs led the rescue bailout of the Royal Bank of Scotland on behalf of the Treasury in 2008, according to his candidate statement, and is now a non-executive director of the Co-operative Bank.

He is the grandnephew of John Grigg, whose name may be familiar to viewers of the Crown.


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Mr Grigg, who disclaimed his title as Lord Altrincham as soon as the Peerage Act gained Royal Ascent in 1963, edited the National and English Review, and published articles attacking the monarchy.

He criticised the Queen's style of public speaking as a "pain in the neck" and said her court was too upper-class and British.

a man and a woman standing in front of a window: The Second Baron Altrincham, in 1958 © Daily Mirror The Second Baron Altrincham, in 1958

Upon renouncing his title, it passed to his nephew - and again to his nephew's son, the current Lord Altrincham, upon his death last year.

Living in London, Lord Altrincham said he would "commit energetically to the House of Lords with an interest in finance and mental health".

A separate hereditary peers' by-election was also held following the retirement last year of the independent crossbencher Countess Mar.

A total of 317 votes were cast in the poll of the whole House, which was won by Lord Londesborough in the sixth round.

Ten candidates - again all men - had contested the vacancy.

It marks a return to the chamber for Lord Londesborough, who within one week in 1999 took up his crossbench seat and made a single maiden-valedictory speech, days before it disappeared under Lords reforms, which reduced the number of hereditary places to 92.

Describing himself as "hands-on entrepreneur and experienced public speaker", he said in his election statement: "Standing for the first time, I would be an active, engaged member."

The House authorities had previously said the suspension of the by-elections, branded by critics as "ridiculous and absurd", could only be temporary as they were required by law.

There have been repeated demands in the Lords to scrap the contests used to fill vacancies caused by the death, resignation or expulsion of hereditary peers.

The system has faced widespread criticism given the exclusive male-dominated list of eligible candidates and the limited number of people able to vote.

The 92 hereditary places in the Lords are unaffected by steps to curb the size of the unelected chamber.

However, previous legislative attempts to end the system have been thwarted by some hereditary peers, with accusations of filibustering and wrecking tactics.

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