Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsI think the biggest myth about the House of Lords is that it is a lot of old men, dressed in ermine robes, sipping tea and that they're all hereditary and that couldn't really be further from the truth. I came into the House of Lords in 2004. My background is in International Development and Human Rights and I think that that is always a useful skill to have when one is debating and revising legislation, which after all does affect people and their lives.
Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsI get to work at the House of Lords between 8:30 and 9:00. In any one day, I might do several of the following; have meetings - I meet with the political leaders in the House of the Chief Whips, I meet with the senior authorities in the House of Lords, I meet with individual peers who come in to talk to me. I meet with schoolchildren. I will meet with various interest groups. I most probably will meet with the Speaker of another Parliament. I then sit on the Woolsack. Now this is a major part of my day. I process through the House, and I follow the mace into the Chamber of the House of Lords and I open the House.
Skip to 1 minute and 20 secondsSo I'm always in the House when Oral Questions take place and this is the most lively part of the House of Lords' day. And then in the afternoon, I might have a foreign ambassador come and see me or a foreign speaker. In the evening, there may be probably two or three receptions. The Lord Speaker also has a ceremonial role. For example, when the Burmese political leader, The National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, came to address parliamentarians, I was able to give her a vote of thanks and I will make a speech of welcome or whatever it might be, just to add a little bit of glamour, let's say to the state visits.
Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsSo it's a very, very full day, and I very rarely leave the House before - let's say nine, half past nine in the evening.
Skip to 2 minutes and 10 secondsI would think that the majority of my day is spent having conversations with people of one sort or another. Talking to the public at large and then schoolchildren in particular in different groups is rewarding, in part, because it means that you are in touch with the wider community. I learn how current legislation is actually affecting the work that they do and to some extent, I can feed that back because during my day I tend to meet all the political leaders in the House of Lords. So I'm constantly exchanging views with them and hearing what they have to say, but also expressing my own views which I've gathered in talking to those groups.
Skip to 2 minutes and 42 secondsThe thing that really is very heartwarming is to watch the way in which individual peers in the House of Lords have such extraordinary expertise. And you're working together, peers from all the political parties, to achieve a particular outcome and I think what it demonstrates is that the House of Lords is predominantly concerned with issues, rather than with party political matters. So it is driven by the content of Bills, rather than the fact that it has to vote according to a party political dictum. I really do feel it's quite a privilege to be able to be on the inside of political decision-making, of watching how politics progress, how Bills are achieved, and how they affect the wider community.
A day in the life of the Lord Speaker
The Lord Speaker oversees proceedings in the Lords Chamber and plays a key role in the administration of the House of Lords.
Lord Fowler is the current Lord Speaker. He was elected in June 2016. In this video we hear from his predecessor, Baroness D’Souza, who held the position of Lord Speaker from 2011 to 2016.
The thing that really is very heart warming is to watch the way in which individual peers in the House of Lords have such extraordinary expertise and you’re working together with peers from all the political parties to achieve a particular outcome. And I think what it demonstrates is that the House of Lords is predominately concerned with issues rather than with party political matters.
Baroness D‘Souza, former Lord Speaker
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