Are you making the most of the Lords?
This is a guest blog post written by Dr Kevin Golding-Williams, Public Affairs and Policy Manager – Living Streets
It is over a month since the end of the party conference season and as the nights draw in, memories of the more useful fringe events you may have attended across the course of the party conferences begin to fade.
I was motivated to write this blog following a conversation with Chloe Stables about a really practical and useful fringe event run by the Labour Lords team at the Labour Party conference. The fringe comprised an expert panel including Janet Royall (Leader in the Lords), Steve Bassam (Chief Whip in the Lord) and Philip Hunt (Deputy Leader in the Lords). It was a case of standing room only as the panel members each gave their insights into the politics of the Upper Chamber and sketched out some of the more obscure elements of Parliamentary procedures. One of the key points I took away from the fringe was the higher degree of scrutiny the Lords can give to developing legislation compared to their colleagues in the Commons. One of the key takeaway messages for NGOs at the event was the need to consider the role of the Lords when planning advocacy campaigns. In particular the importance of NGOs working together through coalitions to ensure there is one clear campaign message for members to act on.
It was also clear that NGOs should not underestimate the role of the Lords to intervene when secondary legislation such as Statutory Instruments (enabling legislation for Acts) pass through the House. We heard how large volumes of secondary legislation pass through the House every week, yet, if the Lords Team is alerted to contentious legislation early enough they can pray against it (essentially a proposal to remove it) in order to prompt a wider debate on the proposals contained within it. Finally, we were reminded that members of the Upper Chamber can also invoke procedures such as Questions for Short Debate and oral Questions in order to highlight a policy issue.
My thoughts and conversations following the fringe lead me to conclude that all to often the Lords is seen as a final thought to any advocacy campaign, compared to the Commons, but as those present at the fringe discovered, perhaps, it should be first thought?
Blog post written by Dr Kevin Golding-Williams, Public Affairs and Policy Manager – Living Streets
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