Monday, 28 June 2010

Introduction of New Peers

There is a special ceremony to mark the intoduction of new peers into the House of Lords. A video of last weeks introduction of Lord Knight of Weymouth is accessible here.

The ceremony is outlined in the "Companion to the Standing Orders"

The Lord Speaker sits on the Woolsack, wearing court dress and a black gown. In the absence of the Lord Speaker, a Deputy Speaker in his parliamentary robe occupies the Woolsack.
The newly created peer and his two supporters, all in their Parliament robes, with Garter Principal King of Arms and Black Rod, assemble in the Peers' Lobby. Garter and Black Rod are sometimes represented by deputies. A procession is formed, which enters the Chamber in the following order:

1. Black Rod
2. Garter, carrying the peer's Letters Patent
3. junior supporter
4. new peer, carrying his writ of summons
5. senior supporter.
At the Bar each member of the procession bows in turn to the Cloth of Estate. They enter the House on the temporal side and proceed towards the Table.
 Black Rod passes in front of the Cross Benches, goes behind the Clerks' seats and stands on the spiritual side. Garter hands the new peer's Letters Patent to the Reading Clerk who has taken up a position by the first gangway on the temporal side. Garter then proceeds behind the Clerks' seats and stands next to Black Rod.

The junior supporter moves down the temporal side to a position beyond the Table by the second gangway. The Reading Clerk, the new peer and the senior supporter follow the junior supporter. On arrival at the Table, when the Reading Clerk has reached the Despatch Box, the procession halts and turns inwards. The new peer hands his writ of summons to the Reading Clerk.

The Reading Clerk reads the Letters Patent and administers the oath of allegiance or the solemn affirmation to the new peer, who then signs the Test Roll upon the Table. The new peer then signs an undertaking to abide by the House of Lords Code of Conduct.
The new peer and the supporters then process in front of the Cross Benches and turn to face the Woolsack: the senior supporter on the spiritual side, the new peer in the centre and the junior supporter on the temporal side. Meanwhile, Black Rod and Garter have moved to the spiritual side of the House between the Table and the Government front bench, facing the three peers. Together, the new peer and the supporters bow to the Cloth of Estate.

The procession then moves up the spiritual side of the House towards the Woolsack, with Black Rod leading, followed by Garter, the senior supporter, the new peer and the junior supporter. On reaching the Woolsack, the new peer shakes hands with the Lord Speaker. The procession passes into the Prince's Chamber through the door on the spiritual side of the House.

The new peer and the two supporters, without robes, then return to the Chamber, and the new peer sits for the first time in that part of the House where he intends to sit in the future.

Fifty Six new peerages were announced on 28th May - and it is hoped to have all of them introduced by the summer recess. The Procedure Committee in the Lords proposed that the number of daily introductions be increased to permit this to happen. The report is available here. It was agreed to by the House of lords last Thursday.

Today Roy Kennedy, who was a colleague on the European Parliament East Midlands Labour List during the 2009 election will be introduced as a Baron. I offer him my congratulations - and will be watching his introduction from the gallery.