Women and hereditary titles

The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 introduced gender equality in the monarchy: males no longer take automatic precedence over females in inheritance rights to the throne. Should hereditary peers be free, if they wish, to pass their titles to their daughters, most of whom have no inheritance rights at all at present? The argument is a strong one, but in some cases special considerations need to be taken into account, as Alistair Lexden pointed out in a letter published in The Times on December 5.

Sir, The Earl of Balfour says that hereditary peers should be free to “nominate which child we want to be our successor” regardless of gender (letter, Nov.29). The childless Tory statesman for whom his title was created in 1922 laid down in the special remainder which preserved it after his death that it should pass to his brother and his male heirs; if they should die out, the male heirs of his nephews should inherit. He could perfectly well have included people in the female line, but chose not to do so. Why should Arthur Balfour’s wishes be set aside?

Lord Lexden
House of Lords