The House of Lords met yesterday (Wednesday 10 April) to pay tribute to Baroness Thatcher.
The Leader of the House, Lord Hill of Oareford (Conservative), led the tributes, highlighting some of Baroness Thatcher’s achievements as prime minister. He spoke of her international role during turbulent times and her commitment to restoring Britain’s position as a world leader: ‘She was an extraordinary leader of her party, of this country and of the world during what were extraordinary times’, he said.
The Leader of the Opposition, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Labour) followed, speaking of how debate on Baroness Thatcher’s political legacy is sure to continue, but recognising her remarkable impact: ‘She was a polarising figure, but whether you agreed with her or not she was a giant in politics. Both regardless of her controversy, and precisely because of it... she will, and should, be remembered.’
Lord McNally (Liberal Democrat), drew attention to the particular perspective of the Lords on this occasion, recognising that contributions would be informed by ‘the memories and judgements of those who experienced first hand the Thatcher phenomenon’. He too, paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher as ‘a figure of enduring importance in our national life.’
The Bishop of Oxford focused on how Baroness Thatcher’s Methodist upbringing provided a source of strength and conviction during her political life. ‘You do not have to agree with every decision that she took to acknowledge the strength of her character and her determination and passion in all she did’, he said.
Lord Laming (Crossbench), recalled the changes made to social care services during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Whilst stating that, ‘many of these changes were and are contested, he drew particular attention to the Children Act 1989 as a lasting political achievement: ‘That bedrock legislation changed childcare practices in this country. Almost 25 years on, it has stood the test of time.'
He concluded: ‘The record of Baroness Thatcher as a woman in a male-dominated environment, as a tenacious politician and as a formidable prime minister is for all to see and certainly will endure.’