During a short debate in the House of Lords on 7 September, reference was made (inaccurately) to the exclusion of a newly created peer from the House in the 19th century. In view of this precedent, one Conservative peer suggested that the House should consider refusing to admit some of Boris Johnson’s 36 new creations. The suggestion was reported in The Times diary column, TMS, on 9 September. A letter from Alistair Lexden, explaining what actually happened in the 19th century, was published in the paper on 10 September.
Sir, The Victorian House of Lords was very foolish to reject the first life peer nominated to the upper house since the Middle Ages (TMS, Sep 9). Sir James Parke, a distinguished judge, was placed formally on the roll of the Lords with the title of Lord Wensleydale in 1856. If he had taken his seat at once, he might well have retained it, but gout kept him away. The Lords then proceeded to overrule a furious Queen Victoria, declaring that despite having a writ of summons he was not entitled to sit in parliament. Walter Bagehot was appalled. “ The House of Lords rejected the inestimable, unprecedented opportunity of being tacitly reformed.” It took another century to get life peers in( and now there are too many of us).
House of Lords