What makes an effective peer?

Lord Norton

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Life Peerages Act, and the competition to find the most outstanding peer of the past fifty years, The Yorkshire Post last month carried an article of mine on the attributes that are required to make an effective member of the House of Lords.

For anyone who would like to read it, it is available online at:


I think I have identified the key attributes of an effective member of the House, but I shall be interested to know if anyone thinks I have omitted any key features.  For those who watch debates in the House, what is it that you think makes for an effective peer?

As a postscript, thanks to a friend, Colin MacArthur, for the picture that illustrates this post.  I shall also be utilising some others he took when he was over from his current abode in Australia.

9 comments for “What makes an effective peer?

  1. 04/08/2008 at 3:39 pm

    That’s a good article, I agree that the Lords is underrated when it comes to working out the practicalities of law and does not involve party politics, making it more effective.

  2. lordnorton
    04/08/2008 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for the comment – much appreciated. It is important that people are aware of what the House does. I know we are often thought to have a high opinion of our own work, but much of that is, I think, justified. At the same time, it is important that we are aware of our own limitations. In one debate recently, on the legislative process, I pointed out that we should be looking at what the Commons has done with what are now public bill committees and see if we can learn from that. One of strengths of the House is that we are variously willing to reform our own procedures.

  3. 04/08/2008 at 8:59 pm

    Ah, thanks for sharing this. I’ll be adding it to my bookmarks (along with your seminar paper on Lords reform not being all it’s cracked up to be). To be brought out next time an argument about the Lords arises on the Internet.

    On a seperate note: if this blog is to continue, will a redesign be planned? The current design isn’t very House of Lords, more generic blog. Also, could a reader enter a proposal?*

    * All rights for the final product assigned to their Lordships, of course.

  4. lordnorton
    04/08/2008 at 9:04 pm

    Liam: Thanks for the response. I´m very glad the material is of use. On your comment about the design, I´m sure this will be noted and considered. I know various readers would like to see a different design. All suggestions I know will be welcome.

  5. Hansard Society
    05/08/2008 at 9:21 am

    Hi Liam

    The Hansard Society is about to undertake its evaluation of the Lords of the Blog website. It would be great to get your ideas about design or thoughts about the blog generally: simply fill in the survey by following this link – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=N6MGQsQ3HHoFSpu5lJfxqQ_3d_3d.

    We will stop collecting feedback at the end of the month so for anyone else with good ideas, it’s worth getting them in – we’ll definitely listen.

    Laura – Senior Researcher, eDemocracy – Hansard Society

  6. 05/08/2008 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks Laura, already filled that one out. 🙂

    I was actually doing a mockup for a client the other day, luckily it wasn’t used in the end, as it might make a good basis for a Lords of the Blog.

    What I’m asking is: if I created a design for this blog, and you chaps liked it, would you consider using it?

    Bearing in mind, that I don’t mind if 1. it’s not what you’re looking for (rejection doesn’t bother me); 2. all the rights for the work are handed over to Hansard/House of Lords/someone else.

    I’ll happily do it for free, but don’t want to spend the time if the chances of it being looked at are absolute zero.

    Sorry if I’m being a pain in the bum, or overstepping the mark. 🙂

  7. lauramiller
    06/08/2008 at 9:18 am

    Thanks, Liam!

    We’d definitely consider your design; it’s a very kind offer! Drop us an email on edemocracy [at] hansard [dot] lse [dot] ac [uk]!

  8. 06/09/2008 at 8:12 pm

    I sent in a draft of a proposed Lords of the Blog design on 27/08/2008, to the address above, and haven’t heard any word back. Was a little worried that it never got to you.

    Laura: have you received the design? If so, have you had a chance to look at it?



  9. beccy83
    18/09/2008 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Liam

    Sorry for the delay in replying to you. I just stumbled across your post when evaluating the site! I’ve forwarded your email onto Laura – thanks very much. If you want to get in touch please do so via the Hansard Society website.


    eDemocracy Programme

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