Lord Speaker to visit Portsmouth at start of WW1 Centenary celebrations
Baroness D'Souza, the Lord Speaker, will visit Portsmouth and Waterlooville on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 February. Her visit is part of the House of Lords outreach programme designed to build greater awareness of, and engagement with, the House of Lords and to find out which issues people in communities are engaging with.
Thursday 13 February
2-4pm – Baroness D'Souza will make a “Peers in Schools visit to Crookhorn College, Waterlooville. Peers in Schools is a programme set up by the office of the Lord Speaker to give talks about the work and role of the House of Lords in support of the citizenship curriculum.
5-6pm – The Lord Speaker will give a short lecture on the work of the House to an audience of students at the University of Portsmouth. The talk will cover the work of the House of Lords and how it has changed over the years. The event will be hosted by senior law lecturer Dr Donal Coffey and will end with a short Q&A session.
Friday 14 February
11am-12pm - The Lord Speaker will visit the British Red Cross Office in Portsmouth, in an event organised by Portsmouth Council. She will have the opportunity to speak to Red Cross Staff working in Portsmouth on international projects and on a local refugee project. She will discuss the expertise of Members of the Lords, as well as her own experiences working in an international environment.
12.30 – 2.30pm – Baroness D'Souza will attend an armed forces-themed event with the Royal British Legion and Portsmouth Council on board HMS Nelson. She will speak informally to attendees including veterans, charities and voluntary organisations working with forces families, about the House and how to engage with the Parliamentary process on matters that concern them.
3-4pm – Finally, the Lord Speaker will meet with members of the Community Ownership Unit Portsmouth (COUP); a group of charities, social enterprises, businesses and council officers who meet monthly to discuss projects that bring public assets into community ownership. Baroness D'Souza will discuss issues surrounding local government, business, charity and social enterprises and which Members might be most appropriate to engage with.
Speaking ahead of her visit to Portsmouth, the Lord Speaker said:
“Portsmouth is synonymous with the Royal Navy and its distinguished naval history is well documented. So I'm delighted to be visiting such a famous maritime area at the start of the country's series of commemorations of the centenary of the First World War.
“As well as visiting diverse groups of people of all ages, professions and experiences, I hope to use my visit to remind people of the importance of Parliament to the scrutiny of laws with a direct relevance to Portsmouth and the wider region, including diplomatic and military policy. The Lords has an important role to play in this area, having so many Members with senior military and foreign service experience. The Lords can offer an authoritative and considered point of view in debates on issues such as Syria, or on the size of the armed forces, because of the nature of its membership, which in some ways makes it better equipped to hold the government to account on these matters than the Commons.
“Although a large part of my role is presiding over business in the Chamber, another equally important aspect of my job is to try to explain the work and membership of the House to people who are largely unaware of it, or still think of it as an institution filled with aristocrats.
“I hope that during my time in Portsmouth, there will be some lively and informative debates, questions and discussions about how people can, do, or plan to engage with parliament and the House of Lords.”