STUDENTS ‘PEER’ INTO HOUSE OF LORDS
Strode’s College’s Laws Department hosted a talk from a member of the House of Lords on Tuesday 6th December to encourage students to engage more with the political and parliamentary process. Lord Haskell met with Politics, Law and Citizenship students for an hour to talk about the work and role of the House of Lords. This was followed by a question and answer session on various aspects of the parliamentary process and life at Westminster generally.
Lord Haskel commenced his talk with a reminder to students of the scale of representation within the House Of Lords. He asserted that members come from ‘different walks of life’ from across the UK, such as women and immigrants as well as scientist and doctors. This clearly demonstrated broad representation and how the House of Lords’ members were drawn for their professional experience in order to carry out the HOL work.
Lord Haskel informed the students of the important role of the Political Peers, Cross Benchers and the Bishops. He argued that the HOL role was vital as it helped to improve drafts, investigate public policy as well as checked and challenge the government. Some members are ‘not party political’ as they represent issues that concern them as opposed to geographical constituencies. This emphasises the independence possible within the House.
He compared the HOL seating arrangements with the European Parliament. He argued that the HOL allows members in the chamber to ‘speak to each other, face to face’, which is something that the European parliament fails to achieve. In effect the European Parliament is at a disadvantage because members often see their colleague’s back.
One student asked what was one of his greatest lessons as a member of the HOL, he replied that it was understanding that the role of the HOL is indeed ‘an asset… unlike the USA’ where ‘parties are set apart from each other’.
After the talk, one student said, ‘the House of Lords is more representative than most would imagine’.