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Life Peers' Life Stories

25 October 2022

Since July 1958, new members have been appointed to the House of Lords for their experience, expertise and contributions to communities.

This new Life Peers' Life Stories video series is a chance to hear firsthand from members of the Lords about their community work outside the Lords, their contribution to the work of the House of Lords and their journey to becoming a life peer. 

Life Peers' Life Stories

Learn about the different backgrounds of members of the Lords and the value their experience brings to the House's work as the UK Parliament's second chamber:

Lord Woolley of Woodford

Lord Woolley of Woodford grew up on a council estate in Leicester with his adopted family, worked as an apprentice and later studied in Latin America during political turbulence. He played a leading role in Operation Black Vote and set up the government’s Race Disparity Unit to look into the experiences of people from different ethnic backgrounds. He is now the Principal of Homerton College, Cambridge – the first Black man to lead an Oxbridge college. He uses his voice in the House of Lords to speak up and speak out for disadvantaged people in society, education and social injustice.

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Baroness Grey-Thompson

Baroness Grey-Thompson has packed getting things done into her life from the get-go. From studying for her degree while travelling the world to become a world-class athlete, to playing a key role in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and having 30 things she wants to achieve in the House of Lords to affect change. Inspired by her parents who battled to get her a place in mainstream education, she has never been afraid to take on arguments and uses her voice in the House of Lords to focus on rights for disabled people and sports policy. Learn more from Baroness Grey-Thompson about what drives her achievements in sports, campaigning and politics.

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Lord McFall of Alcluith, Lord Speaker 

Dumbarton born and bred, Lord McFall of Alcluith is a local man who has championed his community as an MP – from his support for its redevelopment following the loss of the shipbuilding industry on the Clyde, to playing a leading role in achieving National Park status for Loch Lomond, the first National Park in Scotland. He was also a key figure in Parliament as chair of the Commons Treasury Select Committee during the international financial crisis and as House of Lords Senior Deputy Speaker, rapidly putting in place measures for the Lords to function remotely at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lord McFall is driven by his commitment to public life and in 2021 he was elected Lord Speaker. Learn more about his work in Scotland and Westminster. 

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Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Labour) is from Sunderland. Her sense of public service has run through her life, from playing an active part in local community projects in the UK and overseas to using her platform in the House of Lords to speak up on issues affecting women. She also chairs the House of Lords Public Services Committee. Watch her visit Changing Lives in Sunderland, a project providing specialist support for people experiencing challenging circumstances and domestic abuse.

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Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (Crossbench) is from Cardiff. Her passion for better care for dying patients emerged from early childhood experiences with family death. She is now a leader in palliative care, having played a pivotal role in developing the funding formula for Wales to improve cancer care, a world-first funding model. See Baroness Finlay back at work at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff.

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Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick

Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick (Crossbench) grew up in Widnes and Jamaica. He has worked as a teacher, on projects strengthening black communities and at the BBC. His focus is on work to support people living in poverty around the world as well as crime prevention in the UK and working with young men in prisons. Watch Lord Hastings visit Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institute for a football match. 

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Lord Hayward 

Lord Hayward (Conservative) is from rural Oxfordshire. His facination with numbers started in childhood and led to a career in political polling and elections analysis. He has also argued for equality and gay rights. Outside Parliament, he is a dedicated rugby fan. Watch him visit the Harlequin's RFC Pride Day where he combines the two causes he champions.

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Baroness Hussein-Ece

Baroness Hussein-Ece (Liberal Democrat) grew up in a Turkish-Cypriot family in London. She got engaged in local politics through doing community work, raising the profile of political representation in her local Turkish-Cypriot community. Inspired to take action following a local incident, she helped to set up a women’s support centre and played a leading role in setting up Turkish community centres in London. She often speaks in the Lords on issues affecting women and people from minority backgrounds. Watch her visit the Alevi Cultural Centre in Islington. 

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Who's in the House of Lords

Members of the House of Lords come from different backgrounds and professions from across the UK, many are active in their careers and the communities they champion. The House draws on this experience and their professional expertise to carry out its work.

Life peers

Most members of the Lords are life peers: they are members for their lifetime (their title is not passed on to their children). These members are appointed under the Life Peerages Act 1958, which paved the way for women to be members of the Lords. 

Women in the Lords

Women members make up an important part of the House’s membership and make a significant contribution to the work of the House of Lords. Women have dominated the House's leadership roles in recent years: in the last 22 years there have been six women Leaders of the House of Lords (and three men) and the first two Lord Speakers were women.

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