Lord Paul Strasburger’s maiden speech

In recent months, LDV has been bringing its readers copies of our new MPs’ and Peers’ first words in Parliament, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. Last night, Baron Strasburger, of Langridge in the County of Somerset made his maiden speech in the House of Lords during a debate on the House of Lords Reform Draft Bill. His words are reproduced below.

My Lords, it is a very great honour indeed to be making my first speech in your Lordships’ House. I was rather surprised—astonished, even—to be invited to join such eminent company. In fact, when I took the phone call, I wondered whether they had rung the wrong Strasburger. Then I remembered that apart from my daughter and my wife there are no other Strasburgers in this country, so far as I know.

From the moment I arrived for my introduction to this place, I have been given an extremely warm welcome by everyone I have come across. Noble Lords from all parts of the House have been very kind and helpful. So too have all the officials who I have dealt with, especially Garter and Acting Black Rod, as he was then. Yet my most vivid impression of your Lordships’ House is of the unwavering courtesy exhibited by everyone, both during debates and outside the Chamber.

I have taken a keen interest in politics for some time but, unlike most of your Lordships, I have no experience of politics at the sharp end. My career has been in creating new businesses from scratch, mostly in the computing and security industries. I attribute whatever small success I may have had in business to my habit of being clear about where the exit door is before I go in, and in always aiming to delight my customers. I managed to retire—at the third attempt—six years ago, since when, as is frequently the way with these things, I have never been busier.

My wife and I are involved in supporting the arts locally in Bath, where we live, and in helping disadvantaged people, especially children and young adults. We have had the pleasure of seeing youngsters whose only failing was to be dealt a bad hand in life seize the small opportunity that we have had the chance to give them. We have seen them break out of the cycle of deprivation and criminality in which they found themselves. We are also keen environmental activists; I have seen for myself the rapid effects of climate change on the polar ice cap, during two expeditions to the Arctic. We are in the process of building a new house that will be carbon-negative, generating more energy from renewable sources than it will use.

Since being introduced to your Lordships’ House, I have spent much time in this Chamber just listening and learning. I have been impressed by the quality of the debates, the wisdom and common sense that your Lordships bring to this House and the open-minded approach which means that divisions are not always along party lines. That brings me to the subject of this debate. Before I arrived in this place, I was firmly of the view that this House needed to be wholly elected to have any democratic legitimacy. I dare say that is the view of many who have no experience of this House and what it does. I am more convinced than ever of the need for proper scrutiny and improvement of the legislation that the other place sends us. That can often be most charitably described as work in progress, so there is an important job to be done by this House and the current membership seems to do it well.

Most of us here have outgrown the raw ambition that afflicts us in our youth, and that allows us to take a more balanced view of the world than elected politicians jostling for their place in the hierarchy. It is therefore vital, in my view, that any reforms do not jettison the benefits of the wisdom that come only from experience and that the skills of some of those who have chosen a career outside the world of politics are included in the new arrangements. So I would now favour a mostly elected Chamber with a significant minority of appointed Members. That way we can have the best of both worlds: democratic credibility and wisdom based on genuine achievement and experience.

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3 Comments

  • “So I would now favour a mostly elected Chamber with a significant minority of appointed Members. That way we can have the best of both worlds: democratic credibility and wisdom based on genuine achievement and experience.”

    Not too surprising, considering this is the same Paul Strasburger who stood bail for Michael Brown – though that’s probably not the best example of wisdom based on experience …

    After Strasburger’s elevation was announced last year, Michael Crick wrote this:
    Over the past five years Mr Strasburger and his wife Evelyn have made donations to the Liberal Democrats of more than £765,000.
    “I am a donor and I have got a peerage,” Mr Strasburger told the Bath Chronicle today. “If people think those things are linked that is up to them. They may or may not be right, I don’t know.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2010/11/new_peer_strasburger_left_out.html

    I wonder.

  • Ibrahim Taguri 23rd Jun '11 - 9:20am

    Be fair Andy, he does go on say “So I would now favour a mostly elected Chamber with a significant minority of appointed Members.”

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