What the Lords does | A day in the life | House of Lords

What the Lords does | A day in the life | House of Lords


So here we are in central lobby, this is the
heart of parliament, and we are equidistant between the Commons chamber and the Lord’s
chamber. Usually this space is teeming with people, it’s where any member of the public
can come, but today we’re here to talk about the House of Lords, so we’re going through
to the Peers’ lobby. So here we are in the Peers’ lobby, again, this is usually teeming
with people. There might be members of the public who have come to watch our proceedings
and they walk through here to go up to the gallery where they watch what’s going on in
the chamber, but through those gates is the chamber, where of course, most of our work
is done, whether it’s questions, debates or part of the legislation, that is where it
all happens. The press reports show how damaging that can
be, but I shall indeed take all the noble Lord’s points on board. We’re right at the heart of the House of Lord,
the chamber, and it’s in the chamber that we debate government policy, pass laws and
generally scrutinise the activities of the whole of what’s going on in Britain today.
And despite the gold leaf, the carved wood, the heavily embossed leather, it’s actually
very much a working chamber and I’m standing at the despatch box which is where government
ministers lead with government business. However, I can report to the house that a
pilot who returned these bookings. Behind me on my right, here, is the government
side and most of these benches are occupied by the peers who are the government party,
save that right at the far end over my shoulder, is where the Bishops always sit. I’m now crossing
the chamber of the House of Lords onto the opposition side, and the opposition sit along
the benches on my left and it’s not only the main opposition party, it’s also the cross-benchers
who are the independents, and one of the unusual characteristics of the House of Lords is that
there is a large independent presence which means that no one party has an overall majority.
There are three other important parts of the chamber that I think it’s useful to know about,
and the first one is the Woolsack, which is where the Lord Speaker sits. Over to my right
here is the clerk’s table and the clerks are the administrators, the civil servants who
keep us all right. And finally, over my shoulder, is the royal throne. So here we are in the grand committee room,
but it’s also known as the Moses room and you will see from that picture of Moses coming
down the mountain why it’s known as that. It’s used for debates and where we discuss
some of the detail of the legislation, so it enables the chamber to be used for one
bit of legislation and here for another. And the minister sits here at the despatch box,
the civil servants sit behind him and members of the public can sit here and watch the proceedings
in a very intimate experience for them. We’re in one of the division lobbies, this
is where we settle our arguments. There are two division lobbies, one for content, which
means you’re happy with the argument and the other is the not content, where you disagree,
and we’re in the not content. If there is a dispute, it is put to the vote, when the
vote is called, bells ring throughout the Houses of Parliament and you have eight minutes
to walk through this lobby. After eight minutes they see how many people have walked through,
they go into the chamber and they will read out who has won and who has lost, and that’s
the way we settle our arguments. This is the Royal Gallery, and the Gallery
is used for ceremonial occasions, which don’t take place that often, but it is used every
day for meetings. For example, here we have a table, six chairs, there are other tables
like this and there may be a meeting which has been set up, involving people from outside
the Houses of Parliament, or it may be simply peers hatching together some plan. Sometimes
it’s very crowded and very busy, there’s a lot going on and other times it’s very quiet
and slightly spooky, particularly late at night. That way is the chamber but it’s on
the upper floor that a lot of the work is done, in the committee rooms. Well we’re up on the committee corridor and
with the House of Lord’s chamber over there and the river over there and this place is
really quiet now, but normally it’s a buzz with people. Peers will spend as much time
up here on the committee corridor as they do down in the chamber. We just get that sense
of everything is alive here, all the issues that are worrying people out there in the
street, are actually going to be talking about here in this corridor. Well we’re up in one
of the committee rooms, some of the rooms are bigger than this, some are smaller, but
they all pretty much look the same, and this is where we do the important work of scrutinising
government policy and trying to influence future public policy debates. We’ll have people
from all parties and indeed no parties, coming together to really dig deeply into an issue
that we feel strongly needs investigating, be it energy or transport or how we’re going
to feed the world in the future. So these doors here mark the end of the House
of Lords committee corridor, down below us is the Central Lobby, which is the central
point of the Houses of Parliament with the two chambers flowing off from it, the House
of Lords on one side, the House of Commons over there.

2 thoughts on “What the Lords does | A day in the life | House of Lords”

  1. Take a tour behind the scenes of the Lords and find out more about how the House works with our YouTube video http://youtu.be/n4p6mTUqhd4

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