Watch the public panel debate in which Members of the Lords and experts discussed 'Parliament and the public: What difference does the Lords make?' on Wednesday 2 November
The Lord Speaker, Baroness D'Souza, hosted the Hansard Society event which is part of the Parliament Week 2011 celebration of democracy in the UK.
Peter Riddell, Chair of the Hansard Society and former political commentator at The Times, chaired the following panel:
- Mark D'Arcy, BBC parliamentary correspondent
- Baroness Young of Hornsey, Chair of the Lords Social Policies and Consumer Protection EU Sub-Committee and former social worker, actor and media studies lecturer
- Lord Norton of Louth, Professor of Government at Hull University; Vice-President of the Political Studies Association; and active blogger for the Lords of the Blog website
- Baroness Scott of Needham Market, former Suffolk County Councillor, President of the Liberal Democrat Party, and member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; and
- Lord Soley, former MP and active blogger for the Lords of the Blog website.
The Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza, commented ahead of the event:
"I'm delighted to welcome the Hansard Society's panel debate and especially glad that this panel will discuss the House of Lords' contribution to democracy.
"This is a topic I feel strongly about. So much of what the Lords does is behind the scenes but absolutely central to making our democracy work. What we do is vital to hold the Government to account, stand up for people's rights and freedoms, and make sure this country's laws are good not bad. It is thanks to the Lords that forced marriages are illegal, we don't have ID cards, and we have retained trial by jury, for example. This is hard work. We examine laws in microscopic detail and last year alone considered around 2,500 changes to laws the Government proposed.
"I hope this discussion will highlight the Lords role and work and perhaps its greatest strength: its people. The Lords is full of experienced, knowledgeable people from all walks of life, who give their time and knowledge to make British democracy deliver for British people."
The inaugural Parliament Week features a variety of activities taking place at locations across the UK from 31 October to 6 November.
Parliament Week is a new national initiative launched jointly by the House of Commons and the House of Lords which raises public awareness of Parliament and encourages people to engage with the UK's democratic systems and institutions.