Earl Ferrers: Earl Dodger & Viscount Chump

In February 2004, British Conservative MP Earl Ferrers, a former minister, raised some interesting questions in the House of Lords during a debate on the Gender Recognition Bill:

"What happens if an earl has a sex change? In order to make certain that there is no duplicity, we will call him Earl Dodger and his son Viscount Chump. If Earl Dodger has a sex change, does he become a countess, in which case there will then be two Countess Dodgers? Or does he remain as an earl although he masquerades as a woman?

"As the earl has changed from being a male to a female, what happens to the title? Does Viscount Chump suddenly inherit the earldom and become an earl as the earldom is apparently vacant? That does not seem right because you would then have two earls. What happens if Countess Dodger, on the other hand, changes sex and becomes a man? What does she become? Does she become Earl Dodger, so that there are two earls? She cannot, because she was not appointed. What does she do?

"Let us suppose that Earl Dodger has a son and a daughter. Let us suppose that the daughter is older and that she has a sex change and becomes a man. Does she then become Viscount Chump instead of her younger brother who, up till now, was Viscount Chump? If she does become Viscount Chump, does she inherit everything else? Does she inherit the title of earl instead of the proper Viscount Chump, and all the cash, if there is any? In my experience, earls do not have much cash nowadays, but they used to in the good old days. What happens to the proper Viscount Chump? There may be a trust fund under which it all goes to the holder of the earldom. Does the lady get that and, if so, will she remain friends with her brother?...

"If it is intended that the land owned by an earl should pass on to the next earl, and if Earl Dodger becomes a woman and vacates the earldom, does he have to pass his land on to Viscount Dodger, who presumably becomes the earl? Of course, he cannot become the earl, because the earl is still alive. It does not seem very fair, and it happens to nobody else in the country. I hate to put it like this, but the Government are discriminating against hereditary Peers. They have always hated hereditary Peers but I think hereditary Peers are jolly good folk."

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