Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Touhig made their maiden speeches in the House of Lords during debates on Africa and on affordable housing on Thursday 8 July.
Lord McConnell contributed to a debate on developments in regional post-conflict stabilisation in eastern and central Africa.
Lord McConnell commended the work of local and national governments, NGOs and international financial institutions in Africa, which he had observed in his role as special representative on peace-building to the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. He said that the future of conflict prevention, post-conflict stabilisation and peace-building in Africa ‘lies inside Africa itself’ and spoke of the need to continue help build the capacity of regional organisations to realise that vision.
During his time as the Scottish First Minister, from 2001-07, Lord McConnell forged close links with Malawi and established the Scottish Malawi Foundation.
Other topics raised in the debate included:
- performance and accountability of donor programmes, including measures to monitor and evaluate performance
- governance and engagement in African countries, including respect for the civil and media freedoms
- access to natural resources, including environmental threats, climate change and population growth
- violence and insecurity, including impact on healthcare and education services, affect on vulnerable people, rehabilitation of societies and individuals
- trade with Central and Eastern African countries, including oil, mineral resources and weapons.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Conservative life Peer, and Lord Touhig, Labour life Peer made their maiden speeches in a debate on affordable housing.
Lord Kimble discussed the threat posed to the future of rural communities by the lack of affordable housing and the value of the contribution of parish councils and alliances of rural housing associations to addressing the issue.
Lord Gardiner is deputy chief executive of the Countryside Alliance.
Lord Touhig spoke of the impact of affordable housing shortages on personal and family relationships with adult children remaining in the parental home and couples delaying having children, and the need for innovation in the funding of house-building programmes.
Former MP Lord Touhig, held ministerial posts in the Welsh Office and the Ministry of Defence, and was parliamentary private secretary to Gordon Brown when he was chancellor.
Issues under discussion during the debate also included:
- ‘affordability gap’ between local incomes and house prices
- affordable housing in rural communities
- role of housing associations
- supply of housing
- housing benefit and local housing allowances
- impact of poor housing on life chances.
The term ‘maiden speech’ refers to the first time a new Member gives a speech in the House of the Lords. A maiden speech usually takes place during a general debate and is uncontroversial.