Lords to fight Govt in Europe

VIZARDS Staples & Bannisters (VSB) is advising disgruntled lords set on challenging the Government's House of Lords Act in the European Court of Human Rights.

Several lords – whose hereditary right to vote was removed last week – are considering taking their case to Europe.

The lords will argue that they have been disenfranchised.

Hereditary peers cannot vote in general elections or by-elections and now that they have lost the right to sit in the House of Lords they will not be on the electoral role for almost a year following normal registration procedure.

VSB solicitor Kevin Hart, who advised Tory cross-benchers and hereditary peers on the constitutional standing of the bill, will be instructed regarding any legal challenge made.

Hart says: “There were flaws within the bill. The mechanisms of the electoral process means it will be at least October 2000 before they are given the right to vote in elections.

“This means that any peers living in the Kensington and Chelsea constituency will be unable to vote in the by-election.”

Hart says the lords will instruct him because he recently advised the islanders of Sark on the applicability of the European Convention to them. Sark is ruled by the seigneur, a hereditary post, and is not a member of the European Union, although its external affairs are run by the UK.