Not who you think

54268The media variously cover the comments or activities of Lord Patten as Chair of the BBC Trust.  They also variously refer to the work of Lord Hunt as Chair of the Press Complaints Commission.  The only problem is that Lord Patten is not Chair of the BBC Trust and Lord Hunt is not Chair of the Press Complaints Commission.

John Patten, the former Conservative Education Secretary, is Lord Patten.  He was created a peer before Chris Patten – who does chair the BBC Trust- was ennobled.  Chris Patten is Lord Patten of Barnes.  As for Lord Hunt, he died some time ago.  David Hunt, who chairs the Press Complaints Commission, is Lord Hunt of Wirrall.  Given that the original Lord Hunt is no longer with us, could one not refer to Lord Hunt of Wirrall as Lord Hunt?  The only problem with this is that there is in the House also Lord Hunt of King’s Heath (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) and Lord Hunt of Chesterton. 

At the Political Studies Award ceremony last night, former Chancellor and Foreign Secretary Lord Howe of Aberavon was presenting one of the awards.  He was introduced as Lord Howe.  He pointed out he wasn’t Lord Howe.  I am variously introduced as Lord Norton.  Lord Norton is a hereditary peer who lives in Warwickshire.  He was in the House until the House of Lords Act 1999 took effect.  We sometimes got each other’s mail.   

I don’t think any of this creates a crisis of identity for any of the peers involved, but there are times when it does help to get it right as to who one is talking about.   That’s even without mentioning the need not to confuse one’s Lord Taylors and Lord Blacks…

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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12 Responses to Not who you think

  1. maude elwes says:

    The answer has to be to number them. Group numbers, say 1+ whatever their personal number for Tory Lords, 2+ personal number for Labour and so on.

    That way they will ring with equality.

    • Rich says:

      How is 2323, or whatever you think the numbers would look like, more egalitarian than “of Alcluith”? And how does it actually fix the problem? If they don’t use “of Brentwood” and “of Crossharbour” to differentiate the Lord Black who runs the Telegraph from the Lord Black who was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in the US, what makes you think they’d use numbers?

      • maude elwes says:

        And does ‘Alcluith’ or Crossharbour’ fix the problem then? The problem is too many Lords with too much say for unelected people. Appointees should be numbered. Maybe that will trigger the idiot who thinks it’s okay, for the tax payer to have increases of the kind we are seeing today, as wrong footing.

        They should also be numbered by the amount of years they have spent there on their benefits. And be reassessed annually to be sure they are still entitled to the position and benefits they get. Are they deserving for example or are they scroungers? Are they Striver’s or Skivers? That would be a good start.

        And numbers have always been found an efficient referral in other places of ‘her majesty;’s pleasure.’

  2. ladytizzy says:

    Say what?

    “Friday, 30 November: Several newspapers, including financial daily Diário Económico, report that the government is planning to introduce school fees in compulsory education claiming a greater balance is needed to help finance the school system, in a bid to curb public expenditure by €4bn.”

    • maude elwes says:

      As a footnote to that, Lady T. don’t be at all surprised if it turns up here.

      You are aware that an American company is behind the running of and getting of the UK tax payers billions for running Academy schools. And they are very clever at forcing more money out of the people who can barely afford to live. They will start to do this by fear. Your child will be uneducated if you don’t pay and therefore unable to get work. We will of course help you out by placing you on a sliding scale.

  3. Dean B says:

    “..Chris Patten – who does chair the Press Complaints Commission…”
    Oh dear, I fear this post may not clarify things quite as effectively as you would have liked.

  4. Jonathan says:

    It irks me to see the chairman of the BBC Trust referred to as Lord Patten (although, naturally, his headed notepaper uses his correct title). And it certainly irked the late Baroness Young when Baroness Young of Old Scone claimed in a debate that there are two Baroness Youngs with very different views:
    (see right at the bottom, and then the next page)

  5. Rich says:

    I can never decide whether this annoys me more or less than adding the first part of a peer’s territorial designation, for example calling Lord Popat “Lord Popat of Harrow”.

  6. Jonathan says:

    @Rich: that’s annoying too. It has to be said, though, that there are many peers who themselves use both of these incorrect forms, and others.

    Some authorities do say that it is OK to address a Lord by the shortened version after first mention, e.g. “Lord Norton of Louth, Professor of Government, said…” and then, “Lord Norton also commented that…” However, would they also advocate abbreviating Lord Willoughby de Broke to Lord Willoughby?

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