Baroness Judith Jolly writes… Welcome to our new Peers

We heard this morning of new members swelling our ranks on the red benches in the House of Lords.

It seems only yesterday since I arrived in January 2011, fully expecting to serve only five or maybe ten years before standing down for those elected to the Upper House. We now know that it is not to be (yet!) but it was not for want of trying.

If I were to give advice it would be to get involved in something you know something about and something you know nothing about but find interesting. Join some all-party groups. Challenge our government by asking questions in the chamber and in writing.

Although not elected, always remember that you are there because you are a trusted Liberal Democrat and think of our voters as your electorate. Decisions you make, speeches you deliver, can change how people think and the way they vote for our MP colleagues, councillors and MEPs.

As I write I do not know the definitive list, but I do know that you will be joining the most cohesive group in the House. We are inclusive and, like any group, have our divas and grumps, but we are a force. Nowhere was that better demonstrated than during the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill where an unprecedented number turned out to vote and was praised by the Labour front bench: “Liberal Democrats, whose voting record has been magnificent”.

I am sure you will find it challenging, enjoyable, frustrating and exhausting in equal measure, but there will always be someone to ask who will be willing to help. We have a challenging set of legislation coming our way – in our first couple of weeks back we have the Children and Families Bill, Care Bill, Financial Services Bill, Voting Bill and EU Approvals Bill. Now, there should be something there for everyone.

Welcome.

* Baroness Judith Jolly is Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Health and Social Care.

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10 Comments

  • Frank Booth 1st Aug '13 - 12:30pm

    Quite simply another grubby day in British politics. I voted Lib Dem in2010, but I don’t really understand why ‘we’ get twice as many peers as Labour who got more votes last time. Because they already have vastly more Lords to start with? Whatever it just seems like a ludicrous way for a democracy to arrange it’s affairs and the inevitable ennobling of large donors across politics will have the likes of Putin and the Chinese Communist Party crying hypocrisy. The Clegg proposals for HoL reform looked quite absurd, 15 year terms??????? but it’s obviously something that we need to keep working on.

    The whole shenanigans of how the government appoints people to the legislature is just another example of our crazily over-mightly executive.

  • How many more snouts can the trough of privilege accommodate?

  • Tony Greaves 1st Aug '13 - 2:37pm

    Anyone who works hard and does a serious job in the Lords won’t have time or energy to get their snouts in many other places. And they won’t make a fortune from the Lords itself.

    What is ludicrous is the idea that the House of Lords has the need or indeed space for 30 more active peers. All the rumours were for 50 so all the protests from people who know (ie the existing Lords) may have had some small effect.

    Tony Greaves

  • Tony Greaves 1st Aug '13 - 2:41pm

    I should add of course that the most alarming thing about these new appointments is that they increase the Government’s notional majority over the Opposition (discounting cross-benchers and others) by 20.

    This is a further serious undermining of the 1999 settlement where it was agreed that in the “interim” Lords – before “Stage 2 Reform” – the Governing party would not have an automatic overall majority. If the Government can always get its way, the Lords will be seriously shackled in doing its job of “scrutinising and revising” (improving) legislation .

    Tony

  • Mack(Not a Lib Dem) 1st Aug '13 - 3:26pm

    Why should those who have donated hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds to political parties be rewarded with a seat in our legislature? Yet another example of cash for honours. The system stinks. The sooner we move to direct elections to the House of Lords the better.

  • tonygreaves 2nd Aug '13 - 1:08am

    We did try!

    Tony Greaves

  • Rather than just knocking the Lords, I think folks should acquaint themselves with the value they get from them. YES there will be “snouts in the trough”, but there will also be good people who put a lot of thought and effort into the quality of the legislation coming through, and do it in a manner which is far more conducive to a quality result than the bear pit which the Commons is, too, often. And if you are seriously interested in what members at the Palace of Westminster are doing, why not use the tool http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ – you can get reports on what they do, see an analysis of their performance AND write to them. Some of the replies can be very good indeed.

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