Speaking in Glasgow

I travelled to Glasgow yesterday by the West Coast main line, the first time I have travelled from London to Glasgow by this route.  I was impressed.  The tilting Pendolino trains are quite impressive: when they tilt it reminds me of a plane banking in preparation for landing. 

I was there to give a Stevenson Lecture at Glasgow University on the subject of ‘Reform of the House of Lords?’  I was advised that attendance tends to be in the region of 50 to 75.   In the event, there was an audience well in excess of 200.  I am not used to the subject proving quite so popular.   I developed two themes, putting the case against those who argued for election and the case for the House of Lords.   I enjoyed it.  As is clear from Raj’s comment in response to the previous post, some of those who attended are readers of this blog, so I had better leave it to others to comment, but I thought it was a very productive evening.  There were some good questions, including on the spread of expertise in the different parts of the House, devolution, whether there was a case for unicameralism, and the place of the Lords Spiritual. 

The lecture was filmed and will be put on the Stevenson Lecture website.  I will, though, also have a paper copy available shortly for anyone interested in receiving a copy. 

I received text messages during the evening, so I knew that I had not missed any votes in the Lords.  I also got a text message to let me know that the House rose at 11.25 p.m. – early by current standards.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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8 Responses to Speaking in Glasgow

  1. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    Does some party pay for your postage on mailing out anything in general or this Syevenson Lecture in particular. As you know the SASE is not practicable internationaly. If you ever do have a subsidized newsletter or such I would be pleased to receive it. In case you did not get my Christmas card my address is:

    Frank W. Summers III
    PO Box 22
    Perry, LA 70575

    Please never consider this to be even permission for you to send anything for which you must supply the postage if you are inclined to charity. It would leave me ashamed in this case.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Frank W. Summers III: We don’t get postage paid for us in the Lords unless it is on official parliamentary business. I hardly ever use the official envelopes available for that purpose. Most responses I send via e-mail. Otherwise, for snail mail, I tend to buy the stamps myself. I hope I may be able to arrange to make a copy of the paper available electronically. This also gives me an opportunity to thank you for your card, which did indeed arrive safely. You were not the only reader of the blog to be kind enough to send a card.

      • Frank W. Summers III says:

        Lord Norton,
        I would be happy to see it when the text comes out. The lecture interests me on several levels.
        I did not mean to imply that nobody else sent you a card nor was I complaining. I am not saying you thought that either but with these brief messages it is hard to tell such nuances…

  2. Carl.H says:

    In your opinion, were the audience pro-elected House ? Was there perhaps a shift in those that were ?

    I shall of course be looking at the video when available.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: There wasn’t a vote. I like to believe, though, that I persuaded some to move in favour of an appointed chamber. I would certainly be worried if any moved in the opposite direction! I was very gratified by the applause but of course one doesn’t know if that is because I had swung the audience to my point of view or because they admired my courage in making the case I did.

  3. tory boy says:

    The house is still plodding through the PVS&C Bill when is the cut of day that the house has to finish committee to make sure the referendum can be held. I know there has to be a two week gap between committee and report. Is it not quicker to fly up to Glasgow? (I know you don’t like flying but time is money etc) I gather even though the route is electrified is it all the way up to Glasgow? The argument is that only high speed not the current electrified trains will compete with plane travel.

    • Lord Norton says:

      tory boy: Today is supposed to be the last day in committee on the Bill. However, it is now nearly midnight and the House has just risen. So we now await developments.

      On travel, flying is far less enjoyable than train travel and I am not sure the time benefit is now much greater. I gather that travel experts believe that if a journey is four hours or less then it is competitive (in time terms) with flying, given the length of time taken to get to airports, to wait for departure etc. Not that the time difference matters greatly to me. If a destination is reachable by train, I will go by train! Interviewing a candidate for a scholarship recently, he mentioned that he had travelled by train from Beijing to Moscow. I took considerable interest in the details.

  4. Raj says:

    I’ve been to all other lectures in the series so far this year and this was by far the best attended. In the past the 50-75 number would have been accurate, but I did overhear some students talking as I was leaving about essay questions. I might guess that some assessments by the Politics department were set on this topic, hence the large number of students along from there.

    Regarding train travel: I also find travelling by train much more pleasant than flying, but if I was travelling from Glasgow to London, I would probably fly; even with the waiting time and such, I think it would still save a fair amount of time compared to the 4.5-5 hours it takes on the train. Not to mention the (often ridiculous) difference in cost. In saying that, I’m very much looking forward to HS2 eventually reaching Scotland. A 2.5-3 hour journey from Glasgow to London by train would almost certainly take me off the aeroplane (unless they price it too high, of course).

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