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Lord Speaker's Corner: Lord Dubs

3 February 2023

Lord Dubs speaks to the Lord Speaker

Listen to the first in our new series of interviews between the Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith, and members of the House of Lords.

 

In this first episode, the Lord Speaker speaks to Lord Dubs about his experience in the Kindertransport as a child refugee and what continues to drive his work. They also discuss their shared experiences in Northern Ireland, and Lord Dubs' work convincing the government to change legislation.

Watch the interview

Read on for a transcript of the episode or watch a video from the interview.

Transcript

Amy:

Welcome to the House of Lords Podcast and the first episode of a new limited series – Lord Speaker’s Corner. Over the next few episodes, Lord McFall of Alcluith will be speaking to members about what drives them and what they hope to achieve in the House.

In this first episode, the Lord Speaker met with Lord Dubs to discuss his experience in the Kindertransport and what drives his ongoing work with refugees. Here’s the interview:

Lord Speaker:              

Lord Dubs, or should I say my friend Alf, whom I've known for many years and we've worked together, how are you today? Because it's just been your 90th birthday and I want to know if you're still doing marathons.

Lord Dubs:                   

 [Laughs] Well, not doing marathons, but I'm still going hill walking when I get the chance. Not so easy in the winter. I'm fine today. Yes, it's been a good day. Everything going well.

Lord Speaker:              

But you've been doing marathons politically for years and years and when some people talk about having an age limit for the House of Lords, you contradict that issue because only a couple of weeks ago you were down at Manston on the refugee issue, and you've made many visits to Calais on that issue.

Lord Speaker:              

You're one of the Kindertransport children. Has that experience stayed with you in life so that you were focused on the refugee issues?

Lord Dubs:                   

It must have influenced me either consciously or subconsciously, yes. One can't go through an experience like that at the age of six, leaving home, saying goodbye to my mother at the station and so on. I was lucky because in the end the family got together again. But yes, I don't think one can go through that sort of experience without it having some effect on one. And my belief is that I felt the issue of refugees was important then, and is important now, and it's important, for those of us that have a chance to play in public life, to make use of our experience and to use it as effectively as we can.

Lord Speaker:              

You've always given me the impression that you value every day, every day is a good experience. And if it's not such a good day, it's an experience that you learn for the future, but you've never, ever been other than engaging and optimistic and pushing people forward any time I've known you. How do you have those qualities, while the rest of us have such a variable approach?

Lord Dubs:                   

 [Laughs] Well, look, thank you. Thank you for saying that, John. I don't know, maybe it's just the way I am. Maybe it's my experiences in life that have made me like that. But no, I suppose basically I'm optimistic, although the state of the world, yes, I ought not to be, but I suppose basically I'm optimistic. I still believe it's possible to achieve things for the better. I believe that here, in the Lords, it's possible for us to try and do things for the better. And so it's always a challenge and it's good. Look, what's the point of being here if one doesn't do something with it, just to be here for the sake of being here. I honestly don't think there's much point to that. I think it's a great opportunity to do things, and I hope like many others I try and make use of that opportunity.

Lord Speaker:              

Well, you were an MP for a marginal seat and you did lose your seat after a while. What was the difference between being a Member of Parliament and being a member of the House of Lords?

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, I suppose one thing is that I was older and wiser. I could reflect upon things and I came in with a bit of experience as well between losing my seat in the Commons and going into the Lords. I'm very lucky to be here. I think I had some time as chief executive of the Refugee Council, so I was actually in the outside world managing quite a large organisation. And I think also the different procedures in the Lords were interesting. In some ways, backbenchers, they represent a really good opportunity, perhaps sometimes easier than the Commons. So again, one can take advantage of that and you have to learn. But if you've been in the Commons, you're lucky in a way because you get to the Lords and you know how legislation works, a bit about how governments operate and so on. So one has a head start on those people who weren't involved in politics at all. So that's all to the good. I hope I hit the ground running.

Lord Speaker:              

Well, you certainly do. There's criticism, there always has been criticism of the House of Lords. ‘It's unelected, it's not democratic. We should abolish it.’ What would you say to people who say the House of Lords should be abolished?

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, I don't like that. I think we need a second chamber. I think in a democracy our size, we need two chambers to monitor and scrutinise the work of the executive. That is to protect individuals against governments, if you like. I've always felt in the end we ought to move towards a largely elected Lords because I think that will give us sort of democratic accountability, but I don't think we can rush into it. I think it's going to be a difficult transition from what we are now to what I think I'd like us to be. So though I've always supported an elected second chamber, I think we should do it as part of a process. We can't rush into it because it'd be constitutional chaos. So I'd like us to do it in a disciplined way.

Lord Speaker:              

In a consensual way?

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, I think any constitutional change should be done with consent. Without consent, it's very, very difficult. And the challenge of any government that wants to make changes to our constitution is to seek that consent. Otherwise, it doesn't work very well. So that's what I'd like to see the next government do, I'd like to see them say, ‘Well this is a process. We're going to consult on this. We're going to see what model for a second chamber we want, how it can be made accountable, but also how we can make sure the Commons retains their primacy,’ because we can't, in the end, have deadlock between two Houses. We've got to have some way in which the Commons in the end can call the shots, as is the case now, of course.

Lord Speaker:              

Absolutely. You talk about consent. I had the privilege for a number of years in the 90s of working alongside you in the Northern Ireland Office at the time of the peace process. And again, you were optimistic, engaging, and all sides welcomed your presence and contribution. Indeed, our dear departed friend, May Blood, was a fixture in both of our lives and she was from the Protestant side of the community - Shankill Road, but she had great engagement with others. What did the experience in Northern Ireland teach you, Alf?

Lord Dubs:                   

First of all, can I comment on May Blood? I think she was a wonderful person. One of the most effective politicians, although she might not call herself that, one of the most effective persons to come out of Northern Ireland with a passion and a commitment and ability, as you said, to work across communities. And I think one of the things I did learn in Northern Ireland was the need to work across communities in a situation like that to look for consensus, and as it were to say that we've got to get on with this person, got to get on with that person. And we came in, I suppose we were lucky, you and I, and we had painful and great times together. I think painful was the Omagh bombing, for example. But great times were some of the evenings. In the evening we would discuss what happened and some of the things you and I were both able to do in our respective responsibilities.

So it taught me that. It also taught me how to get legislation through, the peace process legislation. It taught me about the difficulties. It taught me about people who were here at this end who are cowards and people who are brave, willing to stand up and people who are not willing to be helpful. So I learned an awful lot. But I suppose in the main, it was hard to get on with people. I knew, I suppose, a bit about Northern Ireland because I'd been involved in Northern Ireland in the Commons, I'd been over a few times, but I think it taught me better still how to get on with people and above all people at all levels in the local communities and at a more senior political level, all these things were part of our day-to-day process. And I think it worked pretty well. A bit of humour helps in Northern Ireland as well.

Lord Speaker:              

You're talking about humour, you remember the all-nighters we had in negotiations at Stormont Castle?

Lord Dubs:                   

Yeah.

Lord Speaker:              

And we had one all-nighter and the tea bar was there and I think there was a call for John Hume and John was a bit weary at the time. So he asked the person at the back, ‘Who's calling?’ And the mouth went to the phone and they got the answer and they come back to John Hume saying, ‘It's a Mr. Clinton.’

[Laughter]

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, it was a bit like that. I mean, when I was in Mo Mowlam, who was Secretary of State when we were there, Mo Mowlam’s office, the phone kept going. It was Madeleine Albright from Washington and so on. It was a pretty busy place, and a lot of the world was coming in. I think we were very lucky to be there, because it was an incredibly interesting experience, and a very positive experience. But I think it was because we saw a way forward. We weren't necessarily always going to get it, but we saw a way forward with the peace process. And I think just to have been there under previous governments, containing a difficult situation wouldn't have been satisfying, it would have been quite upsetting. But I think we all felt there was a positive thing ahead, and if we worked hard we might just get there. Although, as you know, it wasn't certain until the last minute that we would get there.

Lord Speaker:              

I think my experience there led me to a better understanding of culture, and a change of culture or approach by myself in the sense that we had to have consensus and ensure that both sides, or all sides, actually, had signed up to our proposals. Coming into the House of Lords, it seems to me that the culture in the House of Lords is a bit akin to the culture we were fostering in Northern Ireland. Is that an accurate assessment?

Lord Dubs:                   

I think there are certainly similarities, yes. I think one of the differences, and there are many between the Lords and the Commons, although I said previously the legislation worked in similar ways. I think, when you make a speech in the Commons, you're basically doing it for your own side or for your local constituency media. When you make a speech here, there are quite a lot of people who aren't totally decided about the issue, and who are open to persuasion, and therefore we seek to persuade quite a chunk of members of the Lords who don't necessarily take the party whip - crossbenchers or independents, and we seek to persuade them. And I think that means one thinks about issues differently and one talks differently. And I think that's probably quite healthy in a democracy, that our job is as much to persuade people that what we're saying is a good idea. And that probably is something that distinguishes the Lords very much from the Commons.

Lord Speaker:              

So in a sense, the Commons, they are representative, they report to the constituents, but we report to society. And are you describing it as more of a civil discourse in the House of Lords trying to engage, listen to people and hopefully persuade?

Lord Dubs:                   

I think that's right. I always think of the crossbenchers, who are quite a large proportion of the whole House, and I think of them as people that we have to persuade because if we lost them on an issue, it's not likely we can win. And so when I was a minister, we were ministers together, I was always seeking to persuade people to understand what we're doing. And there was some quite tense situations. And don't forget, when I was a Northern Ireland minister here in the Lords, there were, I think, five former Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland in the Lords. And these are people who really knew their stuff who'd been in charge in Northern Ireland and who had it all at their fingertips. And so that was pretty challenging, actually.

Lord Speaker:              

And also the workload, because you were responsible for all the legislation was going through and the many bills that we had.

Lord Dubs:                   

Yeah, that's right. I mean there were what, four ministers in the Commons?

Lord Speaker:              

Exactly.

Lord Dubs:                   

And just me in the Lords [Laughter]. And there was some difficult legislation to do with the peace process, and I think it put me on my toes anyway because I knew that I had to persuade people, and I was always conscious that people who knew a lot about Northern Ireland like former Secretaries of State, that I had to at least have them understand what it is we're doing and why we're doing it so they wouldn't be too opposed to it. Quite often they were supportive.

Lord Speaker:              

So you're saying to me then that in terms of the Lords, there are advantages to the setup in the Lords, the culture, the engagement on it, and if we're going to think about change, we have to be careful about what we're doing in order to foster that consensus.

Lord Dubs:                   

Yeah, absolutely. And that, I think, is going to be quite difficult because we've got a good consensus here for many things, and we have a collaborative way of working, by and large. It doesn't mean we don't have tough party political differences, but there's also an element of collaboration on as much as possible. And I think one of the big challenges will be that if we change the way in which members come in the Lords, may not even call it the Lords, that we've got to try and keep the best features of the Lords as much as possible because I think to throw that away would be, really, a backward step. And it's a good thing that we seek to get support from across the different parties and party groups. And I think we always bear that in mind. If I make a speech, I've got to say, ‘how will it work and will it influence those people and those people?’

Lord Speaker:              

That societal dimension, Alf, I think that's really, really important and you've had a lifetime of that. Tell me how the societal engagement that you have links into the work in the House of Lords.

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, it depends a bit. If one has been in the Commons, one brings some of that with one and I get a lot of, first of all, I get a lot of requests to go to and speak. I talk about refugees mainly, but I get a lot of requests to speak, and the main groups that invite me are schools or faith groups. Others do as well, but schools and faith groups, and some Labour parties. And I think that's always a good thing. I'm always very impressed at how the faith groups have responded very positively to some of the issues like this. And of course school kids, they're great. I find when it's something difficult about refugees, they get it. They get it very quickly, and they are so committed to some of the issues, so it's always a pleasure talking to schools. Their response is so positive.

Lord Speaker:              

What's your message for young people? For example, I was a school teacher and I always used to try and encourage the young people to use their talents, and I saw many of them with talents which I didn't have and I'd give my eye teeth for their talents and I didn't see them using it, and that used to frustrate me. So I always used to say, ‘When you get up in the morning, ask what you can do for others, and use your talents. And when you go to bed at night, retire, ask what you've done, and make sure that every day's a good day on that.’ What's your advice for young people?

Lord Dubs:                   

Well I do because sometimes I'm asked about my advice for refugees, but for young people, generally, well what I tend to say is, ‘Go for it, set your sights high, you may not achieve everything.

Lord Speaker:              

Carpe diem.

Lord Dubs:                   

Yeah, that's right. ‘Set your sights high and believe in yourself, and that way you can achieve more.’ I was very reticent. I didn't feel, with my background as a refugee, and English as my third language and so on, I didn't feel I could do that. It took me some time before friends persuaded me to set my sights at something a bit more ambitious. And it may not always work, but I think I would say to young people, ‘Don't hesitate. If there's something you feel you can do, go for it and do it. And believe in yourself.’

Lord Speaker:              

To me, you seem at ease in any company.

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, I like to think so.

Lord Speaker:              

Treating everybody the same, in other words, doesn't matter who you meet, what position they're in socially, you seem, to me, to treat them the same.

Lord Dubs:                   

Maybe instinctively it just comes to me without too much difficulty. But yes, look, I enjoy knocking on doors and canvassing, for example. I do it now to help people fighting by elections in the Commons say, or in general elections or local council elections. So I enjoy knocking on doors, and I enjoy meeting people in context. I enjoy a chat after a meeting. I enjoy Q&As when there's a meeting going on. Yeah, I get quite a kick out of that, it's very satisfying. So I don't think I've had to work at that. I think it almost comes, I'm lucky to say.

Lord Speaker:              

Instinctive.

Lord Dubs:                   

I think it comes instinctively. I haven't had to make an effort, and I'm very sorry for politicians who find it hard work, who are shy of going on the doorstep, who don't like it. Because life's so much more difficult for them. For you and me, it's easier knocking on doors and there's always ‘Who's going to be there, are they going to be sympathetic? Are they going to be unsympathetic?’ and how to handle that.

And it's interesting, also it tells you a lot, people tell you things. It's the one thing that I really do miss from the Commons to Lords, is my constituency surgeries. They were very hard work, people came with their problems, but it also gave me an insight into what was going on. I felt much closer to things and I think that that was healthy. And I'm just a bit worried that some of us in the Lords may not be quite as close to things and we have to work at it. Now, having said that, people don't let me get too far away. I get emails, I get casework, I get all sorts of things which perhaps, in the Lords I shouldn't get, it should go straight to the MP. But I do get it and I try and deal with it as best I can, and it gives me a lot of information, and MPs’ constituency surgeries give a lot of information what's going on. And I think I've got some of that working for me in the Lords.

Lord Speaker:              

Your time in the Lords, would there be something you missed in life had you not been in the Lords, do you think?

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, I don't believe in looking back and saying ‘I should have done something.’

Lord Speaker:              

Or something you've prospered from, from being a member of the Lords?

Lord Dubs:                   

Well I think it's been a great privilege to be in the Lords, and I think it's given me opportunities apart from all people I've met across a range of backgrounds. I think it's been a great privilege to be here, and it's given me a great sense that it's possible to do things here more than in the Commons. I think a backbencher in the Lords can actually achieve things if you know what you're about and work hard to get it. And I think it's a great privilege. So I feel there's a sense of, satisfaction is a smug word, but there's a sort of sense of-

Lord Speaker:              

Fulfillment.

Lord Dubs:                   

A sense of fulfillment that one is able to do something and that it hasn't been a waste of time. That one is here doing something which brings about change for the better.

Lord Speaker:              

And we mentioned earlier on, we were in Northern Ireland together and May Blood integrated education, that's become a passion for you since your time in Northern Ireland.

Lord Dubs:                   

It has, indeed. Although I wasn't education minister, you were education minister. But yes, I met May Blood first of all in Northern Ireland. She was an active member of the Women's Coalition, but what a brilliant person she was. And of course I worked with her since. And her commitment to integrated education has been absolutely fundamental. And it was such a great loss when she died recently because she had a commitment and a passion and a belief and she got things done and she inspired other people. She was a terrific person altogether, very modest about herself. But I found helping her with integrated education was a great privilege and a great opportunity. I don't know who's going to fill her boots as they say, because she just was so inspirational. But for me, meeting inspirational people like that was a great privilege.

Lord Speaker:              

Her contribution to the House of Lords, how would you sum that up?

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, May contributed a great deal. She came from the Shankill Road, but she understood the Falls Road. If you imagine the Protestant, the Catholic communities in Belfast, I think she demonstrated what one can do in the House of Lords. She had humble origins. She didn't have a privileged background, but she was so effective with it and she brought people with her and she brought public opinion with her. I saw it in public meetings, absolutely brilliant. She was persuasive, effective, you could almost say, ‘How could I not agree with May Blood?’ because she thought it out so well.

And then the other thing is she spoke from real experience. When there were troubles, sadly that there have been troubles in Belfast, I hope no more, and she came from one of the toughest bits of Belfast. She would go shopping in the Shankill Road, and the people there would be faced with the same tough life that she had faced. She didn't live, there are very privileged parts of Northern Ireland, she wasn't in any one of those. And I think that distinguished her because she really knew what it was like. And when she talked about the situation, she talked from her personal experience and her day-to-day experience and that gave her enormous persuasive powers and enormous strength.

Lord Speaker:              

Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I visited Northern Ireland last year and I was in touch with May, and she directed me to the Shankill Women's Centre. So I had really good session in the Shankill Women’s Centre, but I didn't leave without her scolding me because I went to visit an educational establishment which was not integrated. So she promised, she says, when you come back next time you must go to the integrated education. So she never lost her passion.

Lord Dubs:                   

That's right. And I think, I mean I hosted a dinner for her here recently on behalf of integrated education and at those dinners, she used to of course be the main host, I did it instead of her-

Lord Speaker:              

I was there. It was lovely.

Lord Dubs:                   

But one of the things is that we've had both teachers and students of integrated schools and there's something rather wonderful about them. Some of the students of integrated schools who've now, some are working in London, some are working in Dublin, Belfast, wherever. But they are such brilliant people and they have a different perspective on life in Northern Ireland and they understand about divided communities and how we can get over divisions in communities. And so those products of integrated schools are such brilliant models for integrated education.

Similarly, teachers who teach in them, they have a level of dedication and commitment, which is absolutely formidable and it's awesome. It's awesome that there are such great people around in education in Northern Ireland. And I think the integrated education sector is terrific and only hope that they can be expanded. All we are seeking to do is to give parents the choice of an integrated school or not. We're not seeking to impose anything on parents. If they want to go to the traditional schools which are divided on religion, then that's fine. That's their choice. But we want to give them the choice. And most parents, in my experience and from surveys, most parents actually want the ability to choose an integrated school for their children if there's a school there. So that is one of the traditions that May has left us, and I hope many of us will go on doing our best to fulfill it.

Lord Speaker:              

And you talk about her being persuasive. When I joined the House of Lords in 2010, I met her and she says, ‘John, you have left a lasting legacy in Northern Ireland.’ And I was taken by surprise with this, and I said, ‘What do you mean, May?’ She said, ‘Sure Start programmes.’

Lord Dubs:                   

Yeah.

Lord Speaker:              

 ‘You came up to Shankill Road to visit them, and a number of us ‘persuaded you’ – in inverted commas - that it was needed. So you went back to your office and told your officials that they had to stay. And so they're still there to this day.’ And I said, ‘May, that may be right, but I did it because I was scared of you.’ [Laughter]

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, there was some very persuasive advocates or lobbyists in Northern Ireland.

Lord Speaker:              

Yeah, absolutely.

Lord Dubs:                   

Who really absolutely know their stuff. And sometimes, let me reveal not quite a secret, sometimes I found it helpful when they came in because I was also trying to persuade the officials of things, and I found it very helpful when effective lobbies came along.

Lord Speaker:              

Absolutely.

Lord Dubs:                   

Advocated something. And I said to officials, ‘Look, surely they're right.’ And quite often we could nudge policy along simply because people came in, and they were good. Provided they didn't talk too long. Sometimes they talked so long that we never got a chance to engage, but that's the way life is. But I found that some people in Northern Ireland were really very effective at being persuasive and saying, ‘Look, this, what about this? Wouldn't this be a good idea?’ And I was quite often persuaded by such interaction with local people.

Lord Speaker:              

Alf, your time in the Commons, your time in the House of Lords, to me, it's been you serving the common good, irrespective of who you meet, where you meet them, and the benefits you've had from these institutions. I think it's evident in my experience of you, but also in our conversation today. Tell me, in terms of that experience, what have been the highs for you, and what have been the lows, and how have you dealt with both?

Lord Dubs:                   

[Laughs] Oh, that's quite a different comment! Let me talk about the highs first. Well, I’ll talk about it under two headings. One is I felt that when I moved some amendments to government legislation and those amendments eventually were passed in the Lords and the Commons hiccuped, came back to the Lords and then the Government accepted them. I found that was a high, and one element of the high was public opinion heard what was going on. And I remember I was being shouted, I heard somebody shout in the street - and normally when it's politicians it's abuse - but it wasn't abuse, it was saying ‘Keep going with your amendment.’ And I found that the way public opinion woke up to some of the issues of child refugees helped to persuade governments. And I think that, so I've always said, whatever we do, we've got to bring public opinion with us. It's very important. Without public opinion, we can't win things. So that was one high.

Another high was going to a refugee camp and meeting some of the young people, who are volunteers often, but not exclusively from this country who've given up a year or two of their lives to work with refugees. Often in the most incredibly difficult circumstances in refugee camps in the Jungle in Calais or on the Greek islands. And I found that both humbling and inspiring that young people, young people from this country often, can do such brilliant things. They don't get many accolades, they don't get much pay. But I found that pretty good.

And another good thing has been, I think, when we got to the Good Friday Agreement, I thought our combination of our time there and all the efforts and here was something which hopefully will bring peace to the people of Northern Ireland, give them a chance to have the decent sort of life that we all expect for ourselves in Britain, but they also deserve it in Northern Ireland.

So those were the highs. Oh dear, the lows. The lows were losing my seat in the House of Commons. That was a bit of a low, it's not a great thing to happen. Suddenly you are on the job market, and I was unemployed for a year, but there we go, that's how things are. I think some, I have to say, I can't avoid being a bit party political. I have to say, when the home secretary talks about refugees as invaders, I find that deeply and personally upsetting. Upsetting because invaders are seen as an enemy. Invaders are hostile people. Whereas what we're talking about are people who are fleeing from war, persecution, threats to their safety and so on. And I think we owe them a bit of compassion. So that is another low, and I'd strive in politics to have to overcome that. And when I'm talking outside Parliament and in Parliament, I try and argue an opposing case.

Lord Speaker:              

From our talk today, but also from my experience with you, I feel that you've used the House of Lords as a forum for civic discourse, for engaging with society as such, and therefore, in that sense it's a force for good. Also, your compassion, whether it be refugees or whatever, and the optimistic view that you have shines through. But in terms of young people, I've seen you with young people when we were in Northern Ireland and engaging with young people and you've got a special skill for young people. What would your message be to young people about how they go forward, Alf, and the good experiences they have, but also in the bad experiences they have?

Lord Dubs:                   

Well, I suppose it's quite a difficult one, that. I suppose I want young people to, as best they can, I want them to understand about humanity. I want them to understand about the need to be caring about our fellow human beings. Whether they're living in a war zone or whether they're impoverished living in Britain. I want them to care about such people. I want them to feel that they're able to achieve things. I want them to feel that they shouldn't just sit back and just let things happen. I think that they all have a responsibility to make things better. And they can, with a bit of luck, we all need luck, a bit of luck, they can help to achieve things.

Look, if I can dig digress a second, Nicholas Winton, the man who organized the Kindertransport from Czechoslovakia and saved me from the Holocaust, Nicholas Winton, saw what was happening, and unlike many people who say ‘This is awful’ and then walk away, he did not walk away. He actually said, ‘I must do something.’ And that distinguished him from other people. And I hope that the young people to whom I would then be talking will also say that if they see something, they have a responsibility to act on it. Not just to walk away, if they possibly can, to act on it and to do something positive. So I think we have to be optimists. We have to believe in ourselves and I say to young people, they won't make as much of a mess of the world as we have.

Lord Speaker:              

To those who say the House of Lords is useless, it has no place whatsoever. You've been here quite a long time. What message would you give to people about your experience in the House of Lords that's positive?

Lord Dubs:                   

I think it's possible in the House of Lords to achieve things. And there's no point in being here unless one sets out to do that. Absolutely no point in just saying, ‘Oh, it's great being in the Lords and it’s wonderful’ and all that sort of stuff. No, no, that's not good enough. I think the thing about the Lords is it's an opportunity, and I think one's job here, one's responsibility for being here is, in fact, to use it as an opportunity and to achieve things, and to achieve change. We've got to make a difference. And I think anybody who's in the Lords ought to be able to say, ‘Yeah, in that small way or that big way, I help to make a difference.’ And that I think will be the test of whether people are doing what they should be doing here or just sitting here doing nothing.

Lord Speaker:              

Well Alf, thanks for coming in and chatting to me, your life experience has been fantastic and I hope somewhere sometime the two of us can sit down for your 100th and you tell me what you've done in the 10 years since we met now. So thanks very much.

Lord Dubs: [Laughs] Well, thank you, John. Not sure about the last bit, but thank you very much. I've enjoyed the chat. I've enjoyed talking to you.

Amy: Thanks for listening to this first episode of Lord Speaker’s Corner. The next episode will be available soon and videos from the series are available to watch on https://www.parliament.uk/Lords