Anna Mammedova’s winning essay

Anna Mammedova © Parliamentary copyright

Sixteen-year-old Anna nominated Keith Ross, caseworker for the Welsh Refugee Council and Green Party member and candidate in the 2010 General Election for membership of the House of Lords in the Lord Speaker’s competition: ‘The Peer Factor: Who Would You Put in the House of Lords and Why?’

Anna Mammedova, Olchfa School, Swansea:

The House of Lords is the upper House of the UK Parliament. It is an unelected chamber which is subordinate to the House of Commons, but yet it still performs vital functions within the British political system. The House of Lords currently has a legislative, scrutinising and legitimating role. It is involved in debating and revising any Bills passed by the House of Commons (except money bills), while suggesting amendments to these Bills where ever necessary. The Lords effectively scrutinise the government policies and actions and provides a sense of check and balance, holding the government accountable for its actions. The fact that the House of Lords plays a vital role in the passage of bills through Parliament helps legitimate bills.

I believe the House of Lords is immensely significant to the British Constitution. Yes, the chamber has had its powers reduced since the passing of the House of Lords Act of 1911, but it is still one of the important elements of the bicameral system. Without the House of Lords and the honourable Lords, the House of Commons, particularly the executive, would dominate and lead an elective dictatorship, which of course would stab democracy. The House of Lords, I believe, needs further reform to give the chamber extra powers and to add a greater sense of representativeness. 

Since the House of Lords has currently only got 29 peers from other parties, I believe it important to increase this number, since the presence of a variety of minority party peers will provide greater representation to those citizens who feel excluded from their core party as a result of the rise of centrist 'catch all parties'.

There are a number of areas which I believe the House of Lords should increase its focus on. For example, with the continuous rise of environmental issues such as climate change, it is pivotal to adapt social policies and legislations to environmental aspects, in order to ensure that the future generations, including my generation, also benefit from an environmentally-friendly and green politics. As a student within the education system in Britain, I believe education needs great focus on, since there are so many talented students who do not get the opportunity to succeed.

So what makes a good Lord? Well a good Lord should be someone who is prepared and enjoys representing and being an ambassador to the Houses of Parliament and the nation as a whole. A Lord should be organised and also should have seen the world through both eyes. Experience and expertise is vital, but also the ability to effectively question, scrutinise and hold the government accountable for its actions.

Lords play an important role in the legislating process, and so a good Lord should consider both the merits and demerits of a specific policy or legislation, and its impacts on a variety of different social groups, not just their own interests. Every Lord should abide the law and regulations in which they function. Every Lord should have great enthusiasm in their day-to-day work.

This is why I would like to introduce a great friend and caseworker of ours: Keith Malcolm Ross, a man who I have great respect towards, someone who I can trust and rely upon, someone who has immense experience of the world as a whole, beyond Britain and a man of active citizenship.

He graduated in the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and has great intellectual and economic skills. Keith Ross has successfully represented me and my family within the United Kingdom. He is a man who I look up to as a great role model. He is a politically active citizen, who is a member of the City of Sanctuary Steering Group and a number of projects to raise awareness of issues facing Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Swansea.

His job as a caseworker in the Welsh Refugee Council involved great scrutiny towards the government's economic and social policies, therefore holding the government accountable at numerous times. Indeed, the House of Lords plays a vital role in scrutinising the work of the government and holding it accountable for its decisions.

Additionally, he was part of the Royal Navy from 1967-1982 and has been involved in a variety of management work, therefore increasing his organisational and communication skills and qualities.

Keith Ross has input largely to society as a whole and has volunteered at a number of scales, for example, he was involved in teaching English as a Foreign Language in Romania.

Image: Anna Mammedova. Parliamentary copyright

The 'Peer Factor' winning entries

Find out about the other winners of 'The Peer Factor' competition:

Class 8 Alpha

The team of 12 and 13 year olds nominated their form teacher Mrs Restivo for her kindness, for working hard and always being there if they need her.

Mary-Beth Patterson

Mary-Beth Patterson nominated former chief executive of the Charities Commission Andrew Hind, impressed by his use of his career in accountancy to help charities.