‘The Peer Factor: Who Would You Put in the House of Lords and Why?’ competition asked young people to think seriously about the role and purpose of the House and Lords, giving them their say on who would make a valuable contribution to making laws on behalf of the UK public and checking and challenging government actions and decisions.
Entrants could make a short film, produce a podcast, write an essay, create a collage or submit a newspaper or magazine article. Nominations included Sir David Attenborough, naturalist and broadcaster; Simon Cowell, music executive and television producer; Jamie Oliver, chef and restaurateur; Dame Jacqueline Wilson, children’s author; Willow Smith, child actress and singer; and Sue Sylvester, a character from the TV series ‘Glee’.
Winning entries and their nominees
- Andrew Hind, nominated in an essay by 15-year-old Mary-Beth Patterson, is the former chief executive of the Charity Commission.
- Mrs Manola Toschi-Restivo, nominated in short film by the 12 and 13 year-old pupils in Class 8 Alpha at Bishop Challoner School in Kent, is the school’s Director of Sport.
- Keith Ross, nominated in an essay by 16 year-old Anna Mammedova, is a caseworker for the Welsh Refugee Council and Green Party member and candidate in the 2010 General Election.
The three overall winners made it all the way to the top out of eight shortlisted submissions from 286 competition entries, representing the work of 499 young people – a record number of entries and participants in the history of the Lord Speaker’s competition.
The winning entries each made compelling cases for their nominations, through the use of language, statistics and research. The judging panel, well placed to assess whether the winning nominations understood the role and work of the House of Lords and its Members, consisted of the Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman, and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde and Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope.
Commenting on the competition Baroness Hayman, the Lord Speaker, said:
‘I’m delighted with the fantastic response we’ve had to this competition, and particularly the extremely high quality of the entries. The young people who took part had their work cut out to demonstrate both their understanding of the House of Lords and to make their case for their nominee.
‘With reform high on the government’s agenda, there has never been a more important time to hear what the views of young people are about the House of Lords. Their entries demonstrated that young people are eager to play a part in the debate about the merits and importance of a bicameral parliamentary system, and have strong views about the qualities and backgrounds they would like to see in Members of the Lords.’
Reactions from the Peer Factor winners
Reacting to her win Mary-Beth Patterson said: ‘I am absolutely delighted and I didn't expect to win! I am really looking forward to the opportunity to be able to visit Parliament and I feel that Andrew Hind merits his position as a recommended Peer in the House of Lords in terms of his contribution to charity. He is a hugely inspirational person!’
On hearing of her win, Anna Mammedova said: ‘I am really, really happy! I was confident about my essay but I did not expect to win.’
On hearing of their win, Class 8 Alpha team member Sally Martin said: ‘When Mrs Restivo told us that we had won the Peer Factor competition and that I would be going to the House of Lords I thought that this was an amazing opportunity and I was over the moon.’ Her classmate, Tom O’Gorman, said: ‘We had a great time making the video. I'm glad all our hard work paid off. It's a privilege to be one of the winners.’ And fellow team member, Rachel Tillotson, added: ‘I was amazed and chuffed that we were picked as the winners of the Peer Factor. Thank you to the judging panel for picking us.’
The competition is part of the House of Lords outreach programme which aims to increase understanding of the work of the House of Lords through a range of opportunities for targeted audiences across the UK. This was the fourth competition to be sponsored by the Lord Speaker and funded by her charitable Woolsack fund.
Image: Individuals nominated for membership of the House of Lords in the Lord Speaker competition 2011. © Press Association