One of the casualties of the “wash-up” period just before the dissolution of the last Parliament was that part of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill that would have ended by-elections to replace hereditary peers who had seats in the House of Lords and who die.

Apparently, members of what is now the new Coalition felt that these proposals were too controversial to be allowed to go through, despite having been supported by the House of Commons.

So the first by-elections of the new Parliament will take place in the House of Lords next month.

The deaths of the Earl of Northesk on 28 March 2010, and of Viscount Colville of Culross on 8 April 2010, have created two vacancies among the 90 hereditary peers who sit in the House of Lords under the terms of section 2 of the House of Lords Act 1999.

Under House of Lords Standing Order 10 these vacancies are to be filled by means of two by-elections, in which those eligible to stand are all those hereditary peers whose names are listed in the ‘Register of hereditary peers who wish to stand for election as members of the House of Lords’.

The Earl of Northesk was one of 42 hereditary peers elected by the Conservative hereditary peers, and Viscount Colville of Culross was one of 28 hereditary peers elected by the Crossbench hereditary peers, so hereditary peers on the Register are being asked to declare whether they wish to stand as a candidate in the Conservative by-election, the Crossbench by-election, or both.

Just let me repeat that:

hereditary peers on the Register are being asked to declare whether they wish to stand as a candidate in the Conservative by-election, the Crossbench by-election, or both.

In each by-election, the voters will be the hereditary peers who sit in the House as members of that party/group: when hereditary peers elected to serve as Deputy Speakers or in other offices are included, this means that there are 47 Conservative electors and 29 Crossbench electors.

Again for emphasis:

47 Conservative electors and 29 Crossbench electors.

The two by-elections will be conducted simultaneously: lists of candidates will be available on Tuesday 1 June, and the results will be announced on Wednesday 23 June.

Isn’t democracy a wonderful thing!

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