House of Lords Podcast

An exclusive insight into the UK Parliament's second chamber

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  • 20. Lord Anderson of Ipswich | Lord Speaker's Corner

    Sovereignty, tackling terrorism and even Macbeth are on the agenda in the latest Lord Speaker’s Corner as David Anderson, Lord Anderson of Ipswich KC, speaks to Lord McFall of Alcluith.‘You were inventing effectively a new system… that had to be common to all the difference countries of Europe… It seemed to me much better to do it that way than to be fighting each other as we had been for hundreds of years.’King’s Counsel Lord Anderson is a leader in European and public law. He has been involved in multiple ground-breaking legal judgments and argued more than 180 cases at the European Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights. In this episode, he talks to Lord McFall about Factortame, the landmark case on parliamentary sovereignty versus European law that saw English courts disapply an Act of Parliament. He also discusses the impact of this and other cases, reflecting ‘I did wonder in retrospect whether it might've been one of the reasons for Brexit.’Lord Anderson also explains his thinking on sovereignty and where power lies today:‘I think in having a political constitution where Parliament is in charge, we've done the right thing. Where I think the difficulty lies is in the relationship between the executive and Parliament... I think it was Gladstone who once said that our constitution more than any others presumes the good sense and the good faith of those who work it.’He also shares his perspective that we don’t need a written constitution but argues ‘if we had a constitutional code or a code of constitutional principles for use in legislation, then that would help actors in the constitutional drama. And I think it would also help inform the public.’Lord Anderson was previously the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. His work, including the influential report A Question of Trust, paved the way for greater transparency of the government’s powers and their use:‘It was dangerous because there was not sufficient trust of the people that are supposed to keep us safe. So what we ended up with was a bill which became an Act of Parliament, which greatly increased the transparency. That doesn't mean telling the bad guys everything you're doing. But it does mean being clear with Parliament and the public what the powers are and how in principle they could be used.’He also advised the government on the need for change following the Westminster and Manchester terror attacks, and argued for more cooperation including beyond the state. He explains ‘if you are going to be effective, for example in stopping people from buying bomb-making ingredients online, you're going to need collaboration from big private companies as well, online marketplaces or online sellers and so on.’ Lord Anderson also cautions about reacting to events, warning ‘if you are foolish enough to overreact to what they are doing or to what they are threatening to do, then you are giving them exactly what they want. Because you are marginalising whatever suspect community they are trying to draw their support from… it's hard to do it sometimes, but you've got to retain the rule of law.’See more from the series

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  • 19. Baroness Young of Hornsey | Lord Speaker's Corner

    Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey, is the latest guest on Lord Speaker’s Corner.In this episode, Baroness Young speaks to Lord McFall of Alcluith about her work tackling modern slavery, race and inequality in the creative sector, and why consumers should challenge companies to do better when they source materials.Baroness Young has extensive experience telling truth to power. From challenging the workplace dress code of her employer in 1971, to pushing for representation as an actor, to calling on major fashion brands to improve their practices, Baroness Young has regularly campaigned for change.‘It was to criminalise forced labour and domestic servitude and like virtually everybody else, including people in this House. I said, "Well, isn't that already a crime?" And no, it wasn't. Forced labour on these shores… in essence, that was the start of this country's towards the Modern Slavery Act, which was six years later.’ In 2009, Baroness Young worked with Anti-Slavery International to put forward amendments to the Coroners and Justice Bill. She talks about the importance of that work and how it has led her to go further, working with the fashion industry to tackle issues in their supply chains and improve transparency.Discussing why consumers should hold companies to account for the products they buy, Baroness Young explains ‘some industries will have a supply chain that's metaphorically miles long… [companies] have to take responsibility for it because otherwise what happens when the people who live by a particular river in China find that they can no longer use the water from that river because it's dyed red… We again, are implicated in that practise. So we have to hold businesses to account.’‘If you think about any one of the scandals that have happened recently, you can talk about Post Office, you can talk about Windrush, you can talk about Grenfell, all of those different things. We always say, "We are never going to let this happen again." And then the next time we say, "We've learned our lesson, it's not going to happen again." And then the next time we say, "We've learned our lesson."’   Baroness Young also explains the need to go beyond inquiries to truly understand issues that face society, explaining ‘these trite phrases don't provide any comfort to the people who suffer.’See more from the series Find out how members engage with charities and campaigners to make change happen
  • 18. The Astronomer Royal, Lord Rees of Ludlow: Lord Speaker’s Corner

    Should Mars be our plan(et) B?Should we continue with manned spaceflight?Hear from the Astronomer Royal, Lord Rees of Ludlow, in the latest episode of Lord Speaker’s Corner.‘Now that robots can do the things that humans were needed for 50 years ago, the case for sending people is getting weaker all the time.’ In this episode, Martin Rees - astrophysicist, former President of the Royal Society, and now Lord Rees of Ludlow and Astronomer Royal – explains to Lord McFall of Alcluith that he thinks governments should no longer pay for manned spaceflight. He explains ‘robots can do all the practical things,’ meaning that ‘only people who really have a high appetite for risk should be going into space, and they should be privately funded, not by the rest of us.’Looking beyond Earth, Lord Rees also advocates for the need to focus effort on tackling climate change rather than looking to move to Mars. He suggests that ‘dealing with climate change on earth is a doddle compared to making Mars habitable.’‘There's a risk that we will leave for our descendants a depleted world with mass extinction… I think it's an ethical imperative that we should change our policies so that, just as we benefit from the heritage of centuries past, we leave a positive heritage for the future.’From AI to bioethics, climate change to the disparities between the global north and south, Lord Rees shares his perspectives on some of the current challenges that we face. He also gives advice to ageing billionaires, saying ‘these billionaires when they were young, they want to be rich, now they're rich, they want to be young again, and that's not quite so easy to arrange.’See more from the series
  • 17. Lord Mandelson: Lord Speaker's Corner

    Peter Mandelson - former Cabinet minister, leading figure in New Labour and now Lord Mandelson - speaks to Lord McFall of Alcluith about his life in politics.‘Born into the Labour Party’, Lord Mandelson began a career of campaigning at school, where he was reprimanded by his grammar school headteacher for advocating for comprehensive education.‘It was very difficult in the 1980s. It made me, of course wonder whether I could ever be a Member of Parliament… And that's when I discovered the innate decency of human beings.’In this often personal interview, Lord Mandelson reflects on the difficulties he faced when he first stood for selection in Hartlepool in 1989 having been outed as a gay man by the News of the World in 1987. He also explains how the people of Hartlepool rallied behind him in the selection process to become their Labour candidate following an attack by his opponent.Lord Mandelson shares that he ‘loved being a minister’ and how his experience in television helped him prepare for the task of getting the public onboard with difficult decisions. He also talks about his experience of being in government, from his roles as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Business Secretary and the need for ‘big goals, big missions, clear policies consistently pursued over a long period.’‘Now, this is a constantly flowing river of poison, of polarisation, of people being mean to and about everyone else. And my advice to politicians now is get off it. I'm not on Twitter.’ Lord Mandelson also reflects on the changing political landscape with the rise of AI and social media culture today, warning colleagues to ‘Get off it, go out on the doorstep, talk to the public.’‘A lot of clear, honest debate goes by the board, because people are so busy taking chunks out of each other. That's fine. That's the adversarial bit of politics. Our end of the parliamentary system is different. It's about scrutiny, it's about debate, it's about revising, it's about advising.’Finally, Lord Mandelson offers his perspective on the differences between the two Houses of Parliament, plans for reform and what might be next for him, telling the Lord Speaker ‘I'm looking forward to creating a third career.’See more from the series
  • 16. Lord Ricketts: Lord Speaker's Corner

    Former top diplomat Lord Ricketts speaks to Lord McFall of Alcluith about the conflicts in Israel/Gaza and Ukraine, the impact of Brexit and more in this episode of Lord Speaker’s Corner.Peter Ricketts, an expert in international relations and now a crossbench member of the House of Lords, has previously served as the UK’s ambassador to France and representative to Nato. He has been chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was the UK’s first national security adviser and the most senior civil servant in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where he was a diplomat for 40 years.‘I think the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan are rather that you have to think about the longer term consequences. What is the political settlement you want to get to by your military intervention? And it's proved elusive in both Iraq and Afghanistan.’ In this new interview, Lord Ricketts shares his expertise on a wide range of developments around the world. He explains how the change in international approach by countries such as the UK and USA have resulted in a more aggressive stance by Russia, Iran and China on the world stage. He also reflects on the likely outcomes of the war in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza.‘You begin to lose the challenge that the civil service ought to represent.’Lord Ricketts also offers his thoughts on politicisation of the civil service, what inspired him to work in the Foreign Office and the impact of frequent turnover of ministers in government departments.See more from the series  
  • 15. Lord Lamont of Lerwick: Lord Speaker's Corner

    Lord Lamont talks tackling inflation, controlling interest rates and growing up in Shetland in the latest episode of Lord Speaker’s Corner.‘Although I personally would not have joined the ERM and although I personally didn't think it was a disaster when we had to leave, I think the period we were in the ERM for two years did actually do the economy a huge amount of good.’Norman Lamont, now Lord Lamont of Lerwick, was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the early 90s, and was responsible for trying to restore stability after the UK dramatically crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) on ‘Black Wednesday’. In this episode, he shares with Lord McFall of Alcluith what was going on behind the scenes and explains that despite it being ‘a political disaster… a great humiliation’, it set up the following 15 years of growth.‘I did actually go and see both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair when they were in opposition. And I told them that it wasn't my business to do anything to help the Labour Party, but I think it would be in the interest, thought it would be in the interest of the country, if they made the Bank of England independent.’Lord Lamont also explains how he suggested to Gordon Brown and Tony Blair to make the Bank of England independent, having not managed to convince John Major to do the same when he was Prime Minister. He also explains how we have got to where we are with interest rates today, by introducing a policy to use interest rate setting to target a set percentage for inflation.Born in Shetland, Lord Lamont also explains how growing up there influenced his perspectives on the UK and Europe, and talks about his hopes for the UK's relationship with the EU post-Brexit.Find out more and watch episodes of Lord Speaker's Corner:
  • 14. Lord Forysth of Drumlean: Lord Speaker's Corner

    Hear from Lord Forsyth as he warns of a 'presidential' style of government that he believes has weakened Parliament’s role in scrutinising and improving laws.'The House of Commons is failing in its function. It’s just abandoned its function of considering legislation properly.'In this new episode of Lord Speaker's Corner, Lord Forsyth tells Lord McFall of Alcluith that he wants to see 'root and branch' reform to cut the use of time-limits on debates and prevent overuse of secondary legislation. He explains that the task of scrutiny now falls largely to the House of Lords, where members can examine proposed bills with greater rigour because there is no guillotine on debate and every proposed change is debated.Michael Forysth, now Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, was first elected as an MP in 1983. He went on to serve as a minister under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, becoming Secretary of State for Scotland in 1995. He was the local MP at the time of the Dunblane Primary School shooting. Speaking about the tragedy, he explains 'It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. It was a huge shock. I still get flashbacks of that scene in the gym.'In the House of Lords, Lord Forsyth has chaired the Economic Affairs Committee and served on committees investigating the Barnett Formula, House of Lords reform, soft power and the National Security Strategy. He shares why he thinks Lords committee reports are so important and the dangers of government not giving their recommendations due attention.Find out more about the Lord Speaker's Corner series and see other episodes