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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Expelling errant peers from the House of Lords.

Tom Morgan

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I'm not trying to re-open a discussion of the Expenses Scandal, which has already received its fair share of fighting-room here. However, a report I read today suggests an interesting link with the Great War, and it's this aspect I'd like to ask about.

Lord Taylor was today found guilty of several counts of claiming expenses and allowances to which he was not entitled. A newspaper report considered the implications for the House of Lords when a member is convicted of a criminal offence. The report said,

Lord Taylor is set to remain a member of the Upper House despite his conviction.

Although successive ministers have proposed reforms so errant peers could be expelled, there is currently no such mechanism.

The House of Lords website states that a peerage "can only be removed by an Act of Parliament".

"Members convicted of a crime and sent to jail cannot sit due to their imprisonment but do not lose their peerage or membership (ie sitting and voting resumes when the custodial sentence finishes)," the website adds.

Having explained how a peer can only be expelled following an Act of Parliament, the report goes on to mention that,

The last time a title was removed was in 1917, when peers who had committed treason by fighting against Britain in the First World War were stripped of their status.

And it's this last sentence that interested me. I wonder if any Pals can tell me which allegedly treacherous peers were expelled from the House of Lords in 1917?


(I had thought that one of them might be His Royal Highness the Duke of Albany, grandson of Queen Victoria. In 1900 he inherited the German title Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and although a schoolboy at Eton at the time, he was basically ordered to go to Germany and be a German Duke. He did so, and received a commission in the German army during the Great War. He was stripped of his Royal Highness title and his peerages by the British Government, but that was in 1919).

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There was an act - the Titles Deprivation Act, which covered peers who had fought against the Crown in the First World War, only those peers who had fought as German subjects were deprived of their titles at the end of the war - The Duke of Albany was covered under this but 1917 was I think when the Act was passed not when it was applied. Now unless me noble Lord had taken Afghan citizenship and fought with the Taliban I'd think he was clear of this one.

There was a much earlier act in the middle ages that withdrew the Kings protection from any noble lord who'd p***d off his Majesty and which entitled any loyal citizen to hang him (and his family) out of hand (after which it wasn't only the title that was extinct). Given that most lords of the time had their own private army I'm not sure it was enforced that often and I'd certainly think that it was not applied today (however much some V right wing parties might wish otherwise).

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thank you, both, for such useful information. So the report in the newspaper was referring to the 1917 Act of Pariament which resulted in the 1919 expulsions. And there were no expulsions in 1917! I must admit I did suspect that some error had been made when I saw the passage, "the last time a title was removed was in 1917" because I knew that there were later expulsions in 1919. All is clear now, though. Thanks again.


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