Parliament: House of Lords: Visiting rights for the ousted peers

OUSTED HEREDITARY peers could be allowed to return to the House of Lords and attend debates if a series of "courtesy rights" are approved. Under the package, they would be allowed to sit on the steps of the throne in the chamber, have limited use of the guests' dining room and bars and access to the Lords library.

Lords authorities have already agreed the package of rights and they will now be debated by peers before Christmas. "These rights are very limited and temporary," a Lords insider said. "This is not a question of hundreds of hereditaries being allowed to come back but of treating them with some courtesy."

However, some Labour backbenchers are likely to be infuriated if peers approve the report by the Lords Officers. "We have voted for the abolition of hereditary peers. I cannot see any reason to allow them back," one Labour MP said.

But the Government's business managers are understood to be in favour of the "rights" because their approval would be regarded as a reconciliatory gesture by many Tories and could help smooth relations which have been strained since the abolition of most hereditary peers.

Former members would be allowed to use the restaurant once a month and bring three guests until next July. They could also host receptions on the premises if they have made their booking for next year before the House of Lords Bill became law in the last session.

Those hereditary peers with Lords laptop computers more than three years old could keep them, but there would be a charged for newer equipment.

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