Guest Blogger: connecting Parliament with the public

Guest Contributor

Lord Renton of Mount HarryI have the distinction of being rather old. This is, of course, one reason why I greatly enjoy being in the House of Lords. I am lucky enough to have had a job all my life – five years working in Canada, 15 in the City of London, and then 23 years as a Member of Parliament.

Now, in the Lords, I can discuss the problems of the day – everything from our cricket team’s tour in India to the disappearance of Woolies – with deeply wise men and women from all political parties who are, more or less, my contemporaries.

Anywhere else we would probably be given a cup of tea (one lump or two, dear?) and put to bed early.

I have been persuaded by young enthusiasts here who believe passionately in the internet and e-knowledge to put some of my thoughts into a podcast. Goodness knows what that word means, but I have done what they asked.

Listen to it and you will hear about our All-Party Information Committee and our determination to try and explain the work we do in what is grandly called the Upper House. We particularly want to encourage you and your family to read about us on our website where you can have a virtual tour of the Houses of Parliament without paying anything!

Tell us what you think and then persuade your children to come with their school to visit us and learn for themselves even more about us.

Tim Renton (Lord Renton of Mount Harry)

13 comments for “Guest Blogger: connecting Parliament with the public

  1. 09/12/2008 at 11:32 am

    Thank you for an excellent first post. Will you become a regular fixture?

  2. laura miller
    09/12/2008 at 11:51 am

    Hi Floetry – thanks for your question.

    Lord Renton of Mount Harry has posted as a guest blogger. We are hoping to have other guest spots on the blog, in addition to recruiting more Peers as regular contributors.

    Laura Miller – Hansard Society

  3. PammyAnny
    09/12/2008 at 12:06 pm

    I’m delighted to have found this site, which looks both interesting and useful. Well done and thank you to all concerned.

  4. Adrian Kidney
    10/12/2008 at 11:32 am

    Welcome, Lord Renton!

    I read your book on the Chief Whip. It was very interesting! Could you tell us perhaps about your time as Chief Whip in the Commons, and how Whips operate in the Lords?

  5. laura miller
    12/12/2008 at 10:15 am

    Hi Adrian, I’m posting Lord Renton’s reply below, Laura.


    I am delighted you have read my book “Chief Whip. . People , Power and Patronage in Westminster.” I suggest everyone who reads this blog asks for it for Christmas! It is in paperback.

    The Government Chief Whip in the Commons is an extremely powerful person. He/she is a member of the Cabinet, will advise the Prime Minister on promotions of backbenchers and the sacking of Ministers
    who prove not to be up to the job, and, with the help of 17 (only 13 in my day) Deputy or Assistant Whips, keeps a check on all MPs in his party, makes sure that they turn up to vote, bullies them into following the party line in their speeches, and acts as a mixture between a Matron and a Sergeant Major.

    The Chief Whip in the Lords has the historic title “Captain of the
    Honourable Corps of the Gentlemen-at Arms ” but he carries few weapons as we are all there more or less of our own choice. If we do not agree with our party line, many of us will abstain or vote the other way.

    Like his colleague in the Commons, he will work with his opposite
    number to arrange when we debate this Bill or that amendment, but he needs to have a glass of whisky at hand for the difficult customers.

    Lord Renton

  6. Senex
    12/12/2008 at 1:50 pm

    Lord Renton: When you say “Now, in the Lords, I can discuss the problems of the day – everything from our cricket team’s tour in India to the disappearance of Woolies”

    And rightly so – however, the mandate for the blog is to connect the House of Lords and Parliament with the public and I must say that Lord Norton sticks to the script unfailingly and good for him.

    However, its hard to see how other peers might blog about something dear to their heart when the mandate gets in the way. In fact it would be bizarre to see a post on reforming the House of Lords followed by a post on herons nabbing ones goldfish from the outside pond.

    My preference is for the blog to have an editorial front page by say Lord Norton [et al] with sub pages away from the lime light where others can blog to their hearts content and with dignity.

    I feel the blog has a long way to go but it operates in capable hands and as such may join the others and welcome you to what we have.

  7. laura miller
    15/12/2008 at 10:44 am

    Hi Senex, I’m posting Lord Renton’s reply below, Laura.


    You have to accept that Peers are an independent lot of people. Those who decide to become a blogger, and we hope many more will, are also likely to write about what they find most interesting.

  8. 16/12/2008 at 12:02 pm

    Hey a really interesting site you guys got. Cool to see that the people that are “running” the country are having different ways to get in contact with the people. The House of Lords blog is a great example of how the members of parliament can get and stay in touch with the people. Hopefully the parliament in my native Norway will try something like this. Keep it up and thanks for a great blog that is making the distance between parliament and the people smaller.

  9. 16/12/2008 at 12:03 pm

    Hello Lord!
    Do you get any christmas holidays or do you have to work all the time?
    Is this your dream job or would you have wanted another job if you could turn back time?
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    Greetings from Norway

  10. 16/12/2008 at 12:04 pm


    Thank you for shairing with us trough your blog. I find it very fasinating and intresting. I think it will be put to good use when I have my exam in English Sosial Studies.

    My (curious) questions are:

    Do you believe that you can connect with the public through your blog?

    Is having a blog common amongst other lords?

  11. 16/12/2008 at 12:05 pm

    Hi, Lord

    We are working with the British political system, and we would like to know more about the House of Lords.

    What is the average age of a Lord?
    What do you actually do?
    How many hours do you usually work per week?
    Do you like your position as Lord, and why?
    Is the House of Lords necessary as an addition to the House of Commons?


  12. laura miller
    17/12/2008 at 2:21 pm

    Hello – I’ve copied Lord Renton’s response below, Laura.

    Hello visitors from Norway

    We act primarily as a revising Chamber that considers the work done in the preparation of new laws by the House of Commons. We suggest changes or improvements that will alter the draft laws for the better.

    We are older than Members of the Commons but not so old as Father Christmas whom we all hope to meet next week.

    Happy Christmas to you all.

    (For more answers to your queries, please visit the Parliament website where you can also find:

    * Frequently Asked Questions about the House of Lords
    * an About Parliament section explaining how Parliament works
    * and publications about the House of Lords.

    The House of Lords also has videos on Parliament’s YouTube channel, and images on Flickr and more.

Comments are closed.