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Lord Speaker's Corner

26 June 2023

Baroness Benjamin

Hear from members of the House of Lords in this new series as the Lord Speaker finds out what influences their work in and beyond the Lords.

Each episode sees Lord McFall of Alcluith discover what drives members and what they hope to achieve in their time in the House.

This new series is available to watch on YouTube or a longer interview is available to download on the House of Lords Podcast.

Lord Speaker’s Corner episodes

Baroness Benjamin

Find out why broadcaster and campaigner, Floella Benjamin, wants the government to reinstate a Cabinet-level champion for young people in the latest episode of Lord Speaker's Corner.

'I feel when you are in power, the policy that you make directly and indirectly affects children...

I want to see somebody sitting at the Cabinet table saying, 'How is this affecting our children?’, because they are the future. If you don't consider them enough, we've got a broken future.

We're having broken children who are suffering from depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, you name it. All the things that they shouldn't be having to face because of the kind of society that we've created for them. And we've got to fix it.'

Baroness Benjamin explains that it was while presenting TV’s Play School in the 1970s and 1980s that she first realised that 'children didn't have a voice… People didn't take what's going to happen to children into consideration enough.' She has gone on to play a significant role advocating for children's rights.

In this extensive interview, Baroness Benjamin also shares how she overcame discrimination in many forms, from name-calling in the playground to being told there were certain roles non-white actors could not portray on screen. She later discusses the importance of the official commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush Generation.

Baroness Benjamin also reflects on being recognised by Queen Elizabeth II in her final honours list and being asked to carry the Sceptre with Dove in the coronation of King Charles III earlier this year.

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Lord Heseltine

Hear from former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine, as he speaks to the Lord Speaker about an extensive political career spanning almost 60 years in Westminster.

'Liverpool changed me. There's no doubt in my mind.'

Talking about his career in Parliament, Lord Heseltine said he hoped his involvement in the regeneration of Merseyside after the 1981 riots would stand as his political legacy. He told Lord McFall that one of the most moving moments of his life came when he was offered the freedom of the City of Liverpool.

In this wide-ranging interview, Lord Heseltine also discusses further devolution in England, the UK's relationship with Europe and calls for a 'Marshall Plan for the developing world' in order to tackle migration.

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Baroness Butler-Sloss

Baroness Butler-Sloss, the highest-ranking female judge in England and Wales as President of the High Court’s Family Division from 1999-2005, speaks to Lord McFall of Alcluith about her career and warns of moving away from parliamentary scrutiny in draft laws before the House.

‘There’s been a creep, a distinct creep, in the last 10 - and possibly mainly the last five - years to move away from parliamentary scrutiny. It’s not just the Lords, it’s parliamentary scrutiny. I remember talking to a Conservative MP and saying: “Are you noticing the extent to which you are not now being asked to make the decisions?”’

Baroness Butler-Sloss also speaks about her long legal career, her success in breaking through the ‘glass ceiling’ holding back women lawyers, her report on the Cleveland child abuse scandal and representation of different faith groups in the Lords.

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Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws

Leading human rights lawyer, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws KC, discusses human rights, social media and access to justice with Lord McFall of Alcluith.

'I was challenging the state, and often taking on the state, because of abuses by arms of the state, by police, by immigration authorities… And that is the purpose of law. That is what the rule of law is all about.'

In this episode, campaigning barrister Baroness Kennedy talks about her early career, plus work on international cases of human rights abuses, such as the mistreatment of Uighurs, Russia’s kidnap of Ukrainian children and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. She also explains her work in the House of Lords to contribute to and improve the law.

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Baroness Kidron

From making movies for Stephen Spielberg to groundbreaking protections for young people online, Baroness Kidron talks to Lord McFall of Alcluith about her wide-ranging work as a filmmaker and campaigner.

‘When the data bill came into the Lords, I put forward an amendment that created a data protection regime for children… And when it came into force, we saw the biggest changes in social media that we've seen in two decades, since it's been a thing in our lives… We are currently working in seven different countries and I believe that by the end of the legislative season, there will be five more states who have passed age-appropriate design codes in their own system. And that is one code introduced in the UK, in the House of Lords.’

Baroness Kidron also discusses the Online Safety Bill - and reveals what inspired her to become a filmmaker and her experiences making television and films including Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar.

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Baroness Morgan of Cotes

'The fact is you can have proper lengthy, detailed debates… and ask difficult questions. Ministers can't get away in the House of Lords with trite answers or too many promises of future action because the peers won't stand for it. And I think that's a real service to the nation.'

Former minister, Chair of the House of Lords Committee on Digital Fraud and Chair of the UK Commission on Covid Commemoration, Baroness Morgan of Cotes talks to the Lord Speaker about her work in the Lords and beyond. As one of the few people to have served as a Secretary of State in both Houses, Baroness Morgan also explains which members of the two Houses of Parliament ask the toughest questions.

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Lord Dubs

‘I think it's possible in the House of Lords to achieve things. And there's no point in being here unless one sets out to do that.’

Speaking shortly after Lord Dubs’ 90th birthday, the Lord Speaker discusses Lord Dubs’ experience in the Kindertransport as a child refugee and what continues to drive his work. They also discuss their shared experiences in Northern Ireland, and convincing the government to change legislation.

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Lord Alderdice

‘One of the problems I had growing up as a young person in Northern Ireland when things were breaking down into violence again was... I was very troubled by the violence. I thought we must find some kind of way of living together. But the other thing was, I wanted to understand why.’

Psychiatrist, former speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and leader of the Alliance Party, Lord Alderdice discusses his involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process and his current work on international conflict and peace building.

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Lord Norton of Louth

‘In the House of Commons there's a culture of assertion. Government knows it'll normally get its way. In the House of Lords, it's a culture of justification. So government's got to persuade the rest of the House that what it wants to achieve it is desirable. So ministers have to engage. They can't simply rely on their own side to get a measure through.’

Constitutional expert and Professor of Government at the University of Hull, Lord Norton of Louth, talks to the Lord Speaker about the importance of good lawmaking, why everyone should care about secondary legislation and the complementary roles of the House of Lords and House of Commons.

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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. 

Get involved

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