House of Lords Podcast


Women in Parliament, equality online, famous faces and tackling fraud

Season 2, Ep. 7
In this month’s House of Lords podcast we talk to Labour’s Angela Smith, Baroness Smith of Basildon and Conservative peer Nicky Morgan, Baroness Morgan of Cotes.First up, we hear from Baroness Morgan about the new Lords committee investigating how we tackle digital fraud, how you can get involved in the committee’s work and what former minister Lord Agnew of Oulton told the committee about the government’s work on fraud.‘This was chosen as the topic because of the scale of fraud. It now accounts of 42% of all crime against individuals and it's the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales.’ Baroness Morgan of CotesWe also discuss Baroness Morgan’s change to the Domestic Abuse Bill to tackle revenge porn, plus what she thinks of the upcoming Online Safety Bill and equality online. We also find out whether it is MPs or members of the Lords who ask the toughest questions to ministers.‘Sadly, I think there is a lot more to be done. I think that our online spaces are still too unfriendly to lots of people, but women included… I still hear too much, 'if you don't like it, then don't participate', well, we don't tell women, we shouldn't tell women not to participate in our public offline spaces so why would we expect women not to participate online?’ Baroness Morgan of CotesNext up, we speak to the Leader of the Opposition in the Lords, Baroness Smith of Basildon. She talks about what has changed for women in Parliament since she was elected in 1997 and what she thinks still needs to change for representation.‘The sad thing was how often the press liked talking about what we wore, and if we wore certain kind of nail varnish… There was a lot of interest in that, and some of it wasn't healthy. We were always referred to as the women MPs… Nobody ever uses that awful term now, you're just an MP. And I think that's one of the shifts. No one thinks being a female MP is unusual.’ Baroness Smith of BasildonWe also discuss what the role of Leader of the Opposition involves, why it’s good to be a bit nervous and discuss some of the famous faces who have visited the Lords, from Harry Styles to Robert Redford and Bradley Whitford.‘I don't think you ever lose the nerves. And I think the day you are never nervous about doing anything is the day you've lost your edge… when there's a really important debate on, statements on the big political issues of the day, there's a nervousness for me, and that's that sort of anticipation that I've got to get this right, people are relying on me.’ Baroness Smith of Basildon

Being a whip, being a rebel, and how do you amuse the Monarch?

Season 2, Ep. 6
This month, we hear from Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate why the House of Lords is the best place for checking draft laws, his experiences as a whip and as a rebel, plus updating the Queen on what’s happening in Parliament.‘This is a bit like Deja-vu, this particular legislation’Lord Kirkhope also explains why he is putting forward changes to the Nationality and Borders Bill based upon his experience as a former immigration minister. ‘It is House of Lords, which in my opinion, and from my experience, now does better and more full scrutiny of legislation than the House of Commons.’He also explains what happens in the chamber and behind the scenes at each stage of the legislative process in the House of Lords as members consider draft laws and try to help the government refine them. ‘I was a whip and my job was to make sure that legislation got through… and what I've got to watch out for now is the operation of the whips.’Lord Kirkhope is also a former whip in the House of Commons. He explains how the job worked and what, in his view, was the worst thing an MP could do.‘It's quite a... What can I say, quite a challenge? How are you going to amuse the monarch?’Finally, we ask Lord Kirkhope about his time writing to Her Majesty The Queen to inform her on what was happening each day in Parliament, and we find out what she thought of his updates. ·Find out more about Lord Kirkhope’s parliamentary career·Follow Lord Kirkhope on Twitter

Protecting children and strengthening the Union

Season 2, Ep. 5
In this month’s episode of the House of Lords Podcast, we are talking about protecting children and strengthening the Union, plus RuPaul’s Drag Race and seeing yourself on stage.Children and the internet‘I saw in the attention economy that, in order to create as much value as possible from data… you created features of the system that were unsafe or exposing for children… They should not be working for the man in Silicon Valley.’First, we speak to Baroness Kidron about her work to protect children online. She explains why she led the way on creating ground-breaking protections for young people. In this interview, Baroness Kidron explains the need to carry on pressing the issues created by a lack of regulation for tech companies, and the need for a series of interventions, likening the situation to the industrial revolution and a need for 17 Factory Acts at the time.‘We've done a lot of the work of taking a draft bill, which was really approaching one of the most difficult issues of our time and actually taking it up a level into being a pragmatic and implementable bill’Baroness Kidron also talks about the way forward for regulating social media giants, her hopes for the Online Safety Bill and the findings of the committee she served on to scrutinise the draft law.‘It’s one of the joys of my life to have been embraced by that community’Baroness Kidron also talks about her experience as a filmmaker, including directing the renowned To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. She explains how pleased she is to see drag and its stars such as RuPaul (who appeared in the film) doing so well today.The Union‘It really is time that we release the trap that central government has on law-making and indeed, on spending and delivering services’We also speak to Baroness Taylor of Bolton and Lord Dunlop this month. They are discussing the Lords Constitution Committee’s report on resetting relations across the UK’s parliaments and governments.‘The biggest threat to the Union is people feeling they're not sharing equally in the Union's benefits and that they feel powerless to make their voices heard… We're waiting as we speak, for the government's leveling up white paper. And I think that's going to be very important and it needs to be ambitious.’They also discuss the threats to the Union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and how the dynamic can be improved.‘Government doesn't always understand Parliament can actually be helpful in terms of getting the legislation into the right shape’We also talk about the importance of legislative scrutiny and the recent Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and, keeping to a cultural theme, we discuss with Baroness Taylor what it is like to see yourself portrayed on stage.Find out more about the Joint Online Safety Bill CommitteeFind out more about the Lords Constitution CommitteeRead an introduction to the Constitution Committee’s latest report

A healthier nation, and ‘government by diktat'

Season 2, Ep. 4
What is needed to make England a healthier nation? And why are two committees concerned about government use of secondary legislation? Find out in this month's House of Lords Podcast.What is needed to make England a healthier nation? We hear from Karren Brady and Phil Willis – Baroness Brady and Lord Willis of Knaresborough – this month on the report just issued by their committee.The Lords Sport and Recreation Committee has called for a new national plan for sport, health and wellbeing. Matt and Amy find out why this is needed and what more needs to be done.‘We have some of the greatest sporting leagues in the world… We're producing world-class people at the top end, but in reality, that is a very small pool of people. And whilst they are excelling, the vast majority who are going to our schools, who are going into our youth clubs and our sports clubs, and indeed those who are doing nothing at all, are flatlining. And the result of which is that we are seeing a more obese nation, a less active nation, an unhealthy nation. And the cost on the NHS of all that is absolutely enormous… We're not asking for billions of pounds, we're asking basically for you to reorganize the money that is spent and to focus it where it is best needed at grassroots.’ Lord Willis Baroness Brady also shares her thoughts on her experience on the Sport and Recreation Committee‘It was also great that everybody on the committee came from a very different perspective and has very different expertise, which is what the Lords is all about. We're invited to come here by using our lifelong experience in our chosen field to look at legislation and hopefully make it better and recommend amendments to the government to change to improve them. So it was great to work with so many talented and incredibly knowledgeable people about their areas and come together with conclusions that cross-party we agreed.’ Baroness Brady‘Government by diktat’This month we also speak to Lord Blencathra and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots about the government’s use of secondary legislation. The two committees they chair have recently warned about abuses of power by the executive and the need for a rebalancing of power back towards Parliament. Over the course of their discussion, they explain in detail the different concerns the committees have on the changing use of secondary legislation and why we should all be concerned at how it is being used.Go and read Hilary MantelThey also explain what secondary legislation is, other terms you may have heard like skeleton bills and Henry VIII powers and unlikely places to learn about them.‘Well, I'd give you one sentence. Go and read Hilary Mantel on the work of Thomas Cromwell and his relationship with the king.’ Lord HodgsonGuidance or law?We also hear about recent examples of confusion that have arisen from secondary legislation and the use of guidance.‘SLSC are really concerned about guidance, which is advice, and regulation which is law. You have to obey the law, but do you have to obey guidance?... ‘Right back in the beginning [of the pandemic], there was a restriction on only one form of exercise per day to every person in the country, quite an important issue, but that was in guidance. The regulation had no restriction at all. So technically you could exercise as many times as you'd like, but the guidance said only once a day.‘Now, how is the man in the street gain understand the difference between those two?’ Lord Hodgson

What comes after COP?

Season 2, Ep. 3
We are discussing the environment and climate change this month on the House of Lords Podcast. We spoke to two leading environmental campaigners in the House about their perceptions of the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow. We also discuss work in the Lords on the environment, and the balance between personal, government and international responsibilities in combatting climate change.First up Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, one of two Green Party members in the Lords, gives us her impressions of the conference, working as one of the smaller parties in the House, plus how it felt to win the first vote on a Green Party amendment in the Lords. ‘There were some important steps, the fact that fossil fuels and coal are actually mentioned in the COP declaration for the first time is important. But we really didn't make the progress that we needed to make in terms of climate finance.’ Baroness BennettWe also discuss where the conversation on climate change should go next and the role of the Lords.‘There's a lack of what I would call systems thinking… even if every individual in the world tried to become an environmental saint. The way our systems work, the way things are arranged in our society, the way our economy is arranged, we still wouldn't meet anywhere near the carbon cuts we need.’ Baroness BennettWe also hear from Baroness Parminter, Chair of the Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee. Baroness Parminter gives her perspective on COP26 and discussing with representatives from parliaments around the world on how to hold their governments to account.‘We'll be making sure that the pledges that the government have now committed to are actually delivered on the ground. So there's that vital role of scrutiny. But also here in Parliament, we are the democratic body that makes sure that people's voices are heard. And that we are making sure that the questions that the people on the streets want to know are getting answered.’ Baroness ParminterBaroness Parminter also tells us about upcoming work of the committee and how it felt to lead the charge on the plastic bag levy.‘When I came in 10 years ago, I was determined to try and make a small contribution to helping make our planet a better place. And when we were in the coalition in 2010 to 2015, I introduced the Lib Dem's policy to support a levy on the plastic bags. And we managed to persuade our Conservative partners in the coalition to deliver that…‘Over 60% of the action that needs to be taken is around behaviour change. What we eat, how we heat our homes, how we travel, what we buy and what we throw away. And so we need to be looking at how we mobilize people to change their behaviours.’ Baroness Parminter·Find out more about Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle and follow on Twitter·Find out more about Baroness Parminter and follow on Twitter·Find out more about the Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee

The Speakers

Season 2, Ep. 1
This month we hear from Parliament’s two Speakers: Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith, and Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.In this episode, they discuss how their similar backgrounds have forged a new working relationship between the two speakers, the importance of engaging with the whole country and the surprisingly international aspects of their roles.‘We share a common heritage in that we're both local lads from the area that we represented. And that was a really important element of our representative history’ Lord McFall of Alcluith‘It's about both using soft power to make friends around the world, reaching out... Democracy matters to both of us, so it's about meeting up with people, sharing ideals’ Sir Lindsay HoyleThe Speakers also discuss the challenges of the last two years and preparing for the future.‘I'm still trying to get used to the idea of... What is a Speaker in the Commons really like? Because we've not really found out what it's like. No sooner than I got elected, within days I'm into a General Election, then Christmas comes, everybody's talking about Brexit, and before we know it, we're then into a pandemic.’ Sir Lindsay Hoyle‘I keep thinking of 2007, which to me, was just round the corner, but in 2007, that was the year of the iPhone. And that's a new life that's been adopted since 2007. So the pace of change, technologically, is going to be great. And we have got to be alive to that. Because our primary interest is engaging with the public, and with society.’ Lord McFall of Alcluith·Find out more about the Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith·Find out more about the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay HoyleRead a transcript

At the table – with Chloe Mawson

Season 1, Ep. 7
·How do you decide what constitutes the House of Lords when you cannot all meet in person?·How has life changed for women in Parliament over the last 21 years?·What do clerks do when they’re sat at the table in the chamber?·How does it feel to miss out on a tour of the Washington Post with Brad Pitt?This month we hear from Chloe Mawson on all of these questions and more. Chloe is the Clerk Assistant, the second most senior role in the House of Lords Administration and the first woman to hold the role since the 1600s. ‘People were going through some of the most stressful periods of their life totally away from work and then having to deliver the most extreme changes that we've seen in this place for a long, long time.’In this episode, she explains what the role of a clerk is when they are in the chamber, creating new ways of doing business during the pandemic and her hopes for lasting changes to the way we work.‘I really hope that we can use our experience of the last 18 months to continue to allow as much flexibility as we can while of course, ensuring that we give really good services to the House and just make sure that we don't go back to a time where flexible working feels like a risk to your career progression, because certainly at times I worried about that and I hope that we're now in a new age where that's just not the case anymore.’We also hear from Chloe about how she first came to work in Parliament and whether clerks make good quizzers.