New Kids on the Block

Baroness Murphy

Lord German

Baroness Benjamin

Baroness Ritchie

This last two days we’ve been meeting in the Chamber 15 minutes early to accommodate the influx of new peers. Why we continue to have new people joining us when one of the key issues is how to reduce the size of the Chamber is something of a puzzle but they keep coming! The six new peers are all clearly party  appointments intended to do regular work, certainly they come from a cross section of interesting backgrounds, they demonstrate the growing diversity of the Lords. On Monday Floella Benjamin, the children’s presenter and campaigner for children rights arrived for the Lib Dems, increasing our African Carribbean contingency; Jack McConnell, formerly Scottish First Minister came in for Labour and Roy Kennedy, formerly party organiser for the Labour party arrived as Lord Kennedy of Southwark. Tuesday we welcomed Lord German from the Lib Dems in Wales, who took the oath in beautifully resonant Welsh and English too, Baroness Hussein-Ece (pronounced Edger) from the British Turkish Cypriot community who took her oath on the Koran, covering her head briefly for that part of the ceremony and finally Baroness Ritchie of Brompton, a conservative councillor from west London. My main thought as they arrived was ‘Thank Goodness they don’t a seat on the cross benches’ Still, new faces and new ideas are always welcome, I’ll be looking out to see how they fare.

Lord McConnell

Lord Kennedy

Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Baroness Hussein-Ece

8 comments for “New Kids on the Block

  1. Gareth Howell
    30/06/2010 at 9:24 am

    Heh! Heh! enjoyable; Grazie Baronessa!

    If the truth about the Lords that it is not practical to be a member, unless you are hereditary, unless you can get there by commuting each day, were widely known among the AfroCarib community, Bless ém all, I shudder to think how many Brixtonians would be comfortably seated on Peers’ benches!

    A fiver return from South Croydon, for a comfortable and warm seat with all the gilt to match, is a very small price to pay for an afternoon’s entertainment!

    May Baroness Benjamin, whose work I greatly admire, enjoy her new status as a peer of the realm!

  2. 30/06/2010 at 10:27 am

    As a serious ‘pure-English’ non-profit citizen of Britain, may I say ‘Hello’, to new and old alike ?

    No doubt we shall all be looking for your raisons d’etre.

    A major ‘starting-point’ of mine is a radical-reform Innovation to combine the Needs ampersand Hows of every single subject in Britain with the widest range of Knowledge, Life-Experience, and Evidence, into one very large new Non-Legislative House which would ‘feed’ the two Legislative Houses with their pre- during- and post- legislation requirements, and be on-call 24/7/52.

    Such would greatly reduce wastage of time within the Legislative Houses, maximise the serious input from the Citizenry (‘Public’), and establish a truly resilient Knowledge and Experience Centre, close to the Westminster Legislative Buildings perhaps.
    But one would envisage its capacity to be at least five thousand i.e. four thousand ‘staff’ or ‘members’, and one thousand visitors at any one time ?

    Lord McClennan of Rogart has just suggested (BBC this morning) that a Council of State could deal with [(such)] Lords’ ‘overloadings’ ? ( – my very extensive paraphrasing, off the cuff).

    Lord Soley has also just posted “Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin”, as a similar factor (?)

  3. 30/06/2010 at 12:29 pm

    I wonder if any will write for LOTB? Speaking of which, I see from the ‘authors’ drop-down on the home page that you have a (101) after your name. I take it this not your age, so belated congratulations on your 101st posting, outmatched only by Lord Soley (119) and, of course, Lord Norton, with an amazing 492. I do wish he’d take up cricket.

    30/06/2010 at 4:04 pm

    I know of a good way to put a hold on the growth of the Lords. Put a Moratorium on Political Appointments and let the Hereditaries back in.

    Not that I have anythign against the current members, but just a suggestion.

  5. Troika21
    30/06/2010 at 5:44 pm

    Well congratulations to the new members and all that.

    I suppose this is House of Lords ‘reform’ is it, packing the benches?.

    01/07/2010 at 2:15 am

    Basically, Troika, you are correct. Hence my idea of Reform sounds good.

  7. 01/07/2010 at 11:10 am

    You ask, “Why we continue to have new people joining us when one of the key issues is how to reduce the size of the Chamber,” yet there are two ways to reduce the size. One is indeed to stop appointing new members, but the other would be to get rid of some of the current members. I don’t see why deserving people should be denied the privilege of sitting in the Lords just because some of you got there first.

    Incidentally, all of the introductions can be watched on the excellent BBC Democracy Live site, as with most business in the chamber:
    The only thing missing is a comprehensive index, so it’s easiest to search for the name of the peer being introduced.

  8. baronessmurphy
    04/07/2010 at 8:35 am

    Jonathan, I agree with you of course. The answer is to allow retirement and sabbaticals for peers who want a break or feel they have made their contribution. The Chamber needs to be reduced to about half its current size, or even less. There is a growing mood in the Chamber that many people would retire if they could do so with recognition of their many years of work for the house and some kind of reassurance that that their areas of special interest would be taken up by new members. Working out how that can be done economically within our current budget framework is not going to be easy.

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