Mentor profiles

St Angela’s and St Bonaventure’s 6th Form, Newham, London, mentored by Baroness Massey of Darwen – hybrid option. © Parliamentary copyright

Four core teams will set out set out options for Lords reform –  fully elected, fully appointed, hybrid; or abolition – from the despatch boxes in the Chamber on Friday 10 December in the House of Lords annual debate for young people.

The students have been supported in formulating their arguments and strategies for debate by four mentors from the House of Lords.

Baroness Quin: mentor for the fully elected option

Personal and professional background

Baroness Quin (Joyce) worked for seven years as a university lecturer in french and politics, and has an MSc in international relations. She published a book in early 2010 called ‘The British Constitution: Continuity and Change – An inside view’.

Political career

Baroness Quin served as an MEP for 10 years, before going on to work as an MP for 18 years. During her time as an MP, she held various positions including opposition spokesperson on trade and industry; opposition spokesperson on employment, Minister of State for the Home Office and Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She became a Member of the House of Lords in 2006 and is currently the opposition spokesperson for environment, food and rural affairs.

House of Lords reform

In the House of Lords

Baroness Quin was a member of the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform from 2003 to 2005.

In March 2007, Baroness Quin voted against a partially elected Chamber and in support of a fully appointed Chamber (going against the Labour Party line on this issue), stating:

‘... As a Member of the other place, I was a member of the first committee on House of Lords reform, presided over by the noble Lord, Lord Cunningham of Felling. During my time on that committee, I favoured, and still favour, the option of a wholly or substantially elected House of Lords. I have not changed my mind, notwithstanding the great respect that I have for the way in which this House conducts its business. However, the basic reason for my favouring a largely or wholly elected House is simply that, in a democracy, the authority of Parliament and government derives from the people, the electorate. The way in which this House is currently composed denies people any say and any sense of ownership of it.’

(Lords Hansard, 12 March 2007, col 521)

In the media

In an article in The Independent in December 2002, Baroness Quin spoke in favour of an elected House, saying:

‘Over half of second chambers overseas are directly elected and they are not gridlocked. Neither are they demanding or gaining new powers. On the contrary, they live with the powers they have been given. [...] It is ironic that a number of existing members of the House of Lords speak against direct elections on the grounds that "we do not want more party politicians," [...] . Most of those putting forward that view are themselves party politicians of long standing and take the party whip in the House of Lords.’ 

Lord Norton of Louth: mentor for the fully appointed option

Personal and professional background

Lord Norton of Louth (Philip) has lectured in politics, government and legislative studies for more than 30 years, at the University of Hull. He was appointed Professor of Politics in 1986 making him at the time the youngest professor of politics in the country. He is a former president of the Politics Association and is the editor of ‘The Journal of Legislative Studies’.  He is the author or editor of 28 books. His publications include ‘Parliament in British Politics’, ‘The British Polity’ – now in its fifth edition and, with Bill Jones, ‘Politics UK’ – now in its seventh edition.

Political career

Lord Norton joined the House of Lords in 1998. He is a member of the Constitution Committee and the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee. He is a former member of the EU Sub-Committee on Law and Institutions and Joint Committee on the draft Constitutional Bill, and was the first chair of the Constitution Committee.

House of Lords reform

In the House

Lord Norton has spoken on several occasions on the issue of reform. He leads a campaign – the campaign for an Effective Second Chamber – which supports reform within the House but is opposed to an elected second chamber. He drafted a House of Lords Bill, introduced by Lord Steel, to provide for reforms to the House; the Bill was introduced in 2007 and has been debated in each session since. When both Houses voted on options for election or retaining an appointed House in 2003 and 2007, he organised the campaign in the Lords for Members to vote for an all-appointed chamber and against the options favouring election.

In the media

Lord Norton contributes regularly to Lords of the Blog, and recently commented:

‘[...] peers favour changes to the House but not its replacement by an elected chamber.’

He also has his own blog: The Norton View.

Baroness Massey of Darwen: mentor for the hybrid option

Personal and professional background

Baroness Massey of Darwen (Doreen) worked as a teacher for many years and has acted as an advisor in personal, social and health education for the London Education Authority. She has written several books on sex education, including ‘Teaching About HIV/AIDS’ and ‘The Sex Education Source Book’.

She is a committed Humanist.

Baroness Massey is a school governor, chair of the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse and patron of the Brook Advisory Centre for Young People.

Political career

Baroness Massey joined the House of Lords in 1999 and speaks in the House mainly on children and young people's issues. She is a former member of the Lords Selection Committee and is a current member of the Works of Art Committee. She chairs the All-Party Group on Children and is the Secretary of the All-Party Group on Humanists.

House of Lords reform

In February 2003 and, and then again in March 2007, Baroness Massey voted against both a partially or fully elected House of Lords.

Lord Elder: mentor for the abolition option

Personal and professional background

Lord Elder (Thomas) worked for the Bank of England for eight years, before going on to work for the Labour Party. He held various roles in the party, including general secretary to the Labour Party Scotland and chief of staff to the leader of the Labour Party. He is currently Chancellor of the Al-Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies.

Political career

Lord Elder joined the House of Lords in 1999. He is a former member of the Lords Economic Affairs Committee and is the secretary for the All-Party Group on Heart Disease.

House of Lords reform

In a debate on House of Lords reform in June 2010, Lord Elder stated:

‘One of the great strengths of this House is that it has always given Governments time and space to get legislation right. [...] An elected House will not, I fear, be as willing to fulfil that function and is more likely to be involved in a battle for power with the other place.’

In March 2007, Lord Elder participated in a debate on House of Lords reform, saying:

‘I support unicameralism because I am determined to defend the primacy of the Commons and I believe that it is inconceivable, as many Peers argued yesterday and today, that should either of the two options that the Commons voted for last week be followed through, the primacy of the Commons would be unchallenged.’

He has on several occasions voted against a partially elected House and for a fully appointed House.

Image: St Angela’s and St Bonaventure’s 6th Form, Newham, London, mentored by Baroness Massey of Darwen – hybrid option. Parliamentary copyright