The majority of hereditary titles can only be passed down to a male heir. The Succession to Peerages and Baronetcies Bill [HL] would enable female heirs to a hereditary peerage to succeed to a title that currently can only be succeeded to by a male heir. It would also allow female heirs to succeed to a baronetcy. Under the bill, a daughter and her issue would be treated for the purposes of succession as if that daughter was a male. However, the bill would maintain the principle of male preference concerning the succession, with male siblings and their issue being entitled to succeed before female siblings. The bill would not affect the succession to land or any other property.

This is the most recent of several private members’ bills introduced which have sought to change the law to allow more female heirs to succeed to hereditary titles. During the 2013–14 session, Lord Lucas (Conservative) introduced the Equality (Titles) Bill [HL]. This bill would have enabled the succession of female heirs to hereditary peerages if the incumbent of the peerage wrote to the lord chancellor to ask that this should occur. During the 2015–16 session, Lord Trefgarne (Conservative) introduced the Succession to Peerages Bill [HL]. This bill was similar to the Succession to Peerages and Baronetcies Bill [HL] in that it would have enabled a woman to succeed to a peerage while maintaining male preference primogeniture in succeeding to hereditary peerages. There have also been several private members’ bills tabled in the House of Commons. None of these bills have been passed.

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