Black History Month 2021: House of Lords
1 October 2021
Find out about Black members past and present and House of Lords work on issues affecting Black communities.
Work of the House of Lords
Impact of COVID-19 on Black communities
Members of the Lords regularly raise concerns about issues affecting Black communities in the House of Lords. Most recently, many of those contributions highlighted the impact of the pandemic on Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities:
- Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon asked the government about the participation of people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) communities in COVID-19 vaccine trials.
- Lord Woolley of Woodford questioned the government on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’s impact on Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities and put forward a debate on ethnicity and child poverty.
- In a debate on women’s health outcomes, Lord Boateng talked about the higher rates of mortality for Black people and racial disparities within healthcare.
- During a debate on coronavirus regulations, Lord Boateng pressed the government on what lessons it has learned from the disproportionate number of Black and minority-ethnic NHS and care workers who died as a result of COVID-19.
- Baroness Benjamin highlighted children’s bereavement, especially that of Black, Asian and ethnic minority children, in a debate on empowering women in the recovery from COVID-19.
- The Public Services Committee report on lessons from COVID-19 raised particular concern about public service provision during the pandemic for Black, Asian and ethnic minority people, who it said had suffered disproportionately due to health inequalities and unequal access to services.
Coming up in Black History Month
The House of Lords will debate ethnic pay gap reporting on Monday 25 October in a debate put forward by Lord Boateng.
Black members of the Lords
Diversity of the House's membership
The membership of the House of Lords is made of people who come from different ethnic, social, political and professional backgrounds from across the UK.
Baroness Benjamin and Baroness Young of Hornsey
Watch Baroness Benjamin (external site) and Baroness Young of Hornsey on YouTube (external site), talking fifty years after Lord Constantine became the first Black member of the Lords. They discuss his life, their own journey to the House of Lords and the work they do as members.
Learie Constantine became the first black member of the House of Lords on 26 March 1969.
His distinguished sporting and political career and his campaigning against racial injustice made him one of the most prominent black figures in Britain.
Actor David Harewood narrates our short video (external site) about his life, made to mark the 50th anniversary of his becoming a member of the House of Lords.
Lord Pitt of Hampstead
Medic and political pioneer Lord Pitt of Hampstead was the second Black member appointed to the House of Lords in 1975.
Learn more about his life campaigning for race relations in the UK in the latest House of Lords Podcast, in partnership with the Parliamentary Archives.
Baroness Amos became the first Black Leader of the House of Lords in 2003. She was also the first Black woman in the Cabinet when, as a member of the Lords, she was appointed Secretary of State for International Development earlier the same year.
Briefings and research
Learn more with Black History Month research and resources on Black Lives Matter, racism in football and more from the House of Lords Library.
Work for us
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