The Lord Speaker, Baroness D'Souza, addressed an audience at the UK's largest membership organisation for business leaders on Wednesday 30 October.
Baroness D'Souza began by tackling common misconceptions about the House of Lords, outlining the series of reforms that have transformed the House over the last century. She also highlighted the diversity of professional experience among today's members, drawing on her own career prior to joining the Lords:
'My own background is in human rights and aid to developing countries, including many years living and working in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world.'
She went on to describe the role of the modern House of Lords as a 'revising, deliberating and advising' chamber - examining and amending bills and holding the government to account.
Specifically addressing the issue of the absence of an electoral mandate, Baroness D'Souza said that she recognised that 'any parliamentary chamber - but especially an unelected one - must earn its keep and prove its usefulness.'
Extending this warning against complacency, she posed a number of questions for the future of the Lords, including:
- Is a House of 782 members too large?
- Should members be appointed for life or for a fixed term of years?
- Should there be an effective retirement mechanism?
The Lord Speaker concluded by explaining some of the different options available for those seeking to engage with members of the Lords today.
The event was chaired by Anne Jordan, a non-executive director of the IoD.
Image: Institute of Directors