Tuesday, 6 August 2013


Hostess: It's a great secret, but I must tell you. My husband has been offered a peerage. 

Guest:  Really! That's rather interesting. We thought of having one, but they are so expensive, and we are economising just now .

The above from Punch in 1921.  Out of the thirty new peers created several seemed to lack merit except in so far as they have made substantial financial contributions to political parties.  James Palumbo, the night club owner, promotion to the ermine looked particularly dodgy.  He has given, it is true, more than £500,000 to the Liberal Party but it is difficult to think what other qualities he has which would justify his joining the House of Lords.  There is, of course, nothing new about cash for peerages. The Liberal Party in particular has form on this subject as Lloyd George pretty well financed his party by selling knighthoods, baronetcies and peerages.  The going rate then (1920) for a knighthood being £10,000 while a baronetcy would cost about £40,000 and, one suspects a peerage well over a £100,000, multiply by around 100 to get to modern day values.

Then of course there where no such thing as 'Life Peers' whilst now there is no such thing as a hereditary peerage or even a baronetcy on offer so one cannot directly compare the cost of getting a peerage say in 1920 to the cost of getting one now. However for those considering investing in a political party with a view to achieving ennoblement it does appear that the wise man should give money to the Liberal party. With a little bit of greasing it would seem that something between £500,000/£1.0m should, after a decent interval, do the trick.  Conservative and Labour peerages though seem, anyway from the current list, to be considerably more expensive while, frankly, giving money to UKIP looks a lost cause as the main political parties are making quite sure that they have no nominations - odd that - is the Liberal Party that same one which used to bleat at how unfair our system was - strange they are so silent about the effective disenfranchisement from the House of Lords of some 15% of the electorate.


  1. As the late Lord Mountbatten put it when someone congratulated him for "meriting" the Garter, "There's no damn merit in it."

  2. Funny how a century goes by and NOTHING changes in the Liberal party!

    I remember hearing an interview Francis where you said your family had always been Tories, never Whigs - and events such as what you describe above certainly prove the merits of why that is.

    Personally I am at a loss as to why Hereditary Peers were curtailed, and no new ones created; I would rather them than a lot of slimey, deceitful wide boys in the Lords.

  3. So true, Nicholas. The hereditaries made up the only truly legislative body in the world, where one might meed a retired greengrocer.

  4. Hello !! this is year 2013 ! Lord This, Duke of Wotsit, The Rt Hon Nonesuch. Does anyone really care about Peerages ? I mean, REALLY CARE ?? To me its just as meaningless as these personalised [ vanity ] numberplates one so often sees. So if you wish to pay some political party a boatload of dosh so that you can call yourself Lord Braindead of Blackpool, then, good for you !!