Dear Diary…

Lord Norton

44104.jpg Various people who have commented on our posts have asked for a diary piece or some indication of what we do. Here’s my diary for yesterday and today.

Wednesday. Tube to Golders Green for a 9.00 a.m. talk to talk to Y11 students at King Alfred School on the role of the House of Lords. Back to the Lords in time for the Constitution Committee: we take evidence from a very distinguished academic lawyer, Professor David Feldman, as part of our inquiry into the surveillance society. Quick lunch and then to a reception to mark the creation of the Joint Department known as PICT (Parliamentary Information and Communications Technology): there has been no provision for such a joint department between the two Houses – we had to pass an Act of Parliament to set it up. I attend the weekly meeting of the Association of Conservative Peers and then have a meeting of Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) of the European Union Committee. We deal with various scrutiny items. I go straight from the committee to a meeting in the Lords Speaker’s room to view some videos being prepared as part of the Lord Speaker’s outreach programme. I go from that to a seminar I chair of my students who are on placement in the House of Commons (as part of a four year degree we run at Hull University): our speakers are two graduates from the programme, Chris Walden of the Association of Colleges and Angela Smith-Hughes of the City of London Corporation. I then have a light dinner in the Bishop’s Bar (one of the restaurants in the Lords) before spending the evening working on a speech for tomorrow. The chamber is considering the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill and during the evening I take part in three votes, the last one at 9.50. The House rises at 10.00 p.m. I work on my speech until 10.30 and then head back to my flat.

Thursday. Into the Lords by 8.20 a.m. Get on with paperwork, have breakfast in the Lords River Restaurant (the food is inexpensive – the cost £2.05) and then have a meeting with someone who works in the Executive Office of the President in the USA: he prepares briefings on legislation for the White House. I meet students who are applying to study politics at Hull. Over lunch, I have unprompted meetings with various colleagues. After lunch, I have a meeting with other students applying to study at Hull. I go into the chamber at 4.40, in time for a debate on a report from the Select Committee on Regulators. (I served on the committee.) I speak in the debate, stressing the need for a permanent parliamentary committee to keep the regulatory state under review. All three front-bench speakers, including the minister (who goes beyond her brief), express support for the proposal. The debate finishes shortly after 6.30 and the House rises for the Easter recess. I shall be catching the 8.27 p.m. train to Hull: an opportunity to get on with almost three hours’ work.

7 comments for “Dear Diary…

  1. Stuart
    03/04/2008 at 7:00 pm

    Reading this post with the “Who Am I?” one above, I get the impression that you must be very happy with your lot in life: politics, academia… and lots of train travel!

  2. Senex
    03/04/2008 at 9:19 pm
  3. tom
    04/04/2008 at 1:56 pm

    Lord Norton – I’m guessing these are average days? You didn’t pick days that you are especially busy to blog about?

    I’m really glad that we have people in the House of Lords like yourself, who work very hard for us. (Having been an organiser of various community events in my time, I know that even though people are greatful, you don’t hear it from them.)

    But (and there always is one) this doesn’t stop me wanting a wholy elected House of Lords…

  4. lordnorton
    04/04/2008 at 3:07 pm

    Senex: no, it doesn’t appear to be for real. The name at the end is a bit of a giveaway. As far as I am aware, no such person exists.

    Tom: yes, your guess is right – the days are average or at least not untypical (and not necessarily my busiest days this week): I am not sure there is an average day as every day is different. The fact that members of the Lords work hard is by itself not a justification for an appointed House, but I would argue that what they do is a basis for retaining a House that adds value to the existing process. You may like to see the website: http://www.effectivesecondchamber.com

    Stuart: Oh yes.

  5. ladytizzy
    04/04/2008 at 6:42 pm

    I’ve had a quick look at the link above and note nothing new has been added this year, and no link to this site. Also, your aim to allow the natural decline of hereditary peers has not been effected viz the recent death of Baroness Darcy de Knayth – what is going on with the HoL reform?

    In the interests of nothing but curiosity, what is a typical menu in the Palace, how many eateries (approx) are there, and do the Peers and MPs tend to mix or keep to themselves?

    This is not entirely a frivolous set of questions since my past experience was that more sensible decisions were made over one meal/drink than ever came out from a series of formal meetings.

  6. Geoff
    05/04/2008 at 4:51 pm

    In the interests of veracity, Lord Norton ( always at a premium in Parliament, I know ) Tewkesbury is seven miles nearer to Penzance than to Scotland

  7. lordnorton
    05/04/2008 at 6:36 pm

    Geoff: I am sure you are right, but I think your comment is actually a response to Lord Tyler’s latest post!

    ladytizzy: the website will have new material shortly. In terms of eateries and the like in the Palace, I will probably do a separate post shortly. We do tend to mix (we utilise the concept of the long table – about which I shall probably do a post) and you are right in that much business is transacted or at least discussed over a meal or a cup of tea. As I touch upon above, I had various unprompted meetings with colleagues over lunch on Thursday – I tend to occupy the same position in the Bishop’s Bar – and this is not an uncommon occurence.

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