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Peer of the Week: The Earl of Rosslyn

Author: Emily Randall

Published on Aug 15, 2012

Peer of the Week: The Earl of Rosslyn

Our Peer of the Week series aims to shed some light on the members of the House of Lords who contribute to making laws in the UK. Each week, we’ll look at the chosen Peer’s background, voting and attendance records as well as any controversy associated with their actions, and question whether these really are the best people to be involved in the legislative process.

Who he is:

  • A crossbench hereditary member of the House of Lords, he was born Peter St Clair-Erskine and is currently a Commander in the Metropolitan Police Service
  • He first entered the House of Lords in 1979, following his father’s death, before joining the Metropolitan Police the following year
  • In 1999, he was elected by other hereditary members of the Lords as one of the 92 hereditary peers to remain in the House
  • Since 2003, he has served as the Head of Protection Command, who have responsibility for ensuring the safety of the Royal Family, foreign diplomats and key public figures

Expenses, Voting and Attendance Records:

  • Since 1999, when public voting records begin, he has only voted in the House of Lords on 7 occasions
  • 5 of those votes were on a single day in 2007, when he voted for the House of Lords to remain fully appointed and against the 4 options for calling for an elected element
  • In 2011, he attended the House on 108 days but failed to vote, speak in any debates or submit any written questions
  • Despite this, he still claimed £15,750.00, tax-free, in expenses


  • He has attracted criticism of his performance as Head of Protection Command, following a series of high profile security breaches, though he still remains in the role
  • Under his watch, a gate-crasher dressed as Osama Bin Laden gained entry to Prince William’s 21st birthday party, a Fathers 4 Justice protester dressed as Batman managed to climb onto the Buckingham Palace balcony and student protesters were able to attack a car carrying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall
  • The Earl has effective ownership and control over the historic sites of Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin Castle and College Hill House, in the small Scottish village of Roslin
  • Though the buildings have received £364,000 of public funds for refurbishments, he has only allowed limited public access to the Castle and College Hill House, whilst privately renting out rooms
  • This move angered the local residents, who claim that he is depriving the community of vital tourism income
  • He also clashed with locals in 1997, when he used his feudal rights to prevent the creation of a heritage centre for the original Earls of Rosslyn, the St Clair family




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