Hereditary peerage change ruled out

The Government has no plans to give women equal rights to inherit hereditary peerages, the leader of the House of Lords has said.

Tory Lord Strathclyde, a Cabinet minister and Tory peer, said that although the Government is considering changing the current law on succession to the throne, in which sons take precedence over daughters, the same did not apply to peerages.

He told the House of Lords at question time: "Changes to the law on succession to the throne can be effected without any change to the legitimate expectations of those in the line of succession.

"Changes to the rules governing succession to hereditary titles would be far more complicated to implement."

He said there were "no current plans" to bring about the change.

Tory hereditary peer Lord Trefgarne said he was "anxious" that any uncertainty should be dispelled as it was "unsettling for those who will be affected".

And crossbench hereditary peer Lady Saltoun of Abernethy asked Lord Strathclyde: "Would you keep in mind that where there is already a male heir who has older sisters, a change in the law in succession to the eldest child or the eldest daughter could be very damaging to relationships in the family?"

Lord Strathclyde described Lady Saltoun as "the only example in this House of a hereditary peer who has inherited as a female" and said it was a "very good thing" that she had a seat.

But he added: "If there were a more general change to the peerage this would affect very many families and very many people. The monarchy is the highest office in the land in which we all have a very major interest."