Tradition: Irvine to swap his ceremonial robes for 'comfortable' attire
Tuesday 17 November 1998
In a modest move towards the modernisation of the Lords, peers decided by 145 to 115 in a free vote to allow him to wear plain black trousers and shoes except on ceremonial occasions.
Lord Irvine said that he faced 13 or 14 hours at a time wearing the traditional costume during the second reading and report stages of Bills. "The wig weighs an absolute ton. It is very uncomfortable," he said.
However, speaking during a lively debate, Earl Ferrers, former Conservative deputy leader of the Lords, dismissed it as "another example of the Government salami-slicing away at tradition" and a "retrograde step".
"The office of Lord Chancellor is one of the highest in the land, and the ceremonial which goes with that office and the uniform that attaches to that office is very important. In my view any attempt to dress down is wrong, nor do I think it is incumbent on whoever happens to be the holder at any time of this prestigious office to say, 'I don't really like this uniform'."
He said one could imagine Guardsmen suggesting they do away with their "silly old bearskins" because they were out of date. Uniforms were a "symbol of what has gone before and on which the present is built", he added.
Referring to the controversial pounds 60,000 refurbishment of Lord Irvine's official apartments at Westminster, Lord Ferrers said: "It would seem curious, for one who is so punctilious that his apartment correctly reflects history, that the same critical analysis should not apply to the Lord Chancellor's dress as well."
Defending the Lord Chancellor's request, Lord Strabolgi, a Labour peer, said times had moved on and reminded peers that Lords used to wear frock coats and top hats at the beginning of the century.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill, a Liberal Democrat peer, said the Lord Chancellor's dress made a "mockery" of the significance of his office. "As a barrister of 35 years' standing, I wish that the Lord Chancellor will liberate me and my colleagues from the outmoded, uncomfortable, unhygienic and unhealthy wigs we presently have to wear," he added.
Peers also approved for the Lord Chancellor to be able to speak from the Government front bench in his role as a minister without his wig and gown as he already does on committee stages of government Bills. He will continue to sit on the Woolsack for question time or the formal stages of Bills.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
A very timely Great Train Robbery and a frantic 24 Hours in A&E among the highlights
scienceThe new development in bio-printing technology could be used in the future to restore lost vision - though years of research still await
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Colin Farrell reveals ‘affair’ with Elizabeth Taylor: 'She was my last romantic relationship'
Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Peter O'Toole: Tales of the late film icon
- 1 Facebook 'self-censorship': study records when you don't post to find more ways to share
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 ‘Why we don't have snow in Saudi Arabia’: Video captures winter fun as Middle East hit with rare blizzard
- 4 Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful - study
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£100 - £125 per day + Negotiable on role: Randstad Education London: Are you f...
£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A full time teacher job a...
£125 - £135 per day + Long Term Roles are negotiable: Randstad Education Londo...
£125 - £135 per day + negotiable for long term roles: Randstad Education Londo...