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This is the first book on the law relating to peers since 1907. In that year F B Palmer published a work covering all aspects of peerage law and it has long been the standard work on the subject. However, since the publication of Palmer’s work there have been a number of important changes in the law. Apart from several leading cases, a number of statutes have affected the peerage, in particular the Life Peerages Act, 1985 and the Peerage Act, 1963.
Accordingly, it is felt that an up-to-date account of the law as it affects the peerage is long overdue. Originally the intention was to up-date Palmer’s work, but in the event this necessitated such a large amount of re-writing that it was decided to start from scratch, although it is right to say that the general plan of this work follows that of Palmer. Although peerage law directly affects only a small part of the population, it is undoubtedly true that many people, apart from lawyers and historians, have an interest in the peerage and it is hoped that this book will be of interest to the general reader as well as the specialist. There is also the question of the position of the Irish peers in the British constitution, which is the subject of a separate chapter.
When work on this book started it seemed as though the Hereditary Peerage would continue slowly to decline in numbers due to the natural attrition of families and that in some respects peerage law would be of historic interest only. However, the recent creation of three hereditary peers (including an Earldom to Mr Harold MacMillan) has added to the numbers of hereditary peers and it may well be that further creations will be made.