The period leading up to the summer recess can be quite a hectic one, with members looking forward to getting something of a break. This was especially the case this year in the Lords, given that we were sitting until the end of July. For me, I would identify three particular highlights of the month or so before the recess.
The first was the occasions I spoke in the chamber. Most of my work tends to be in committee, but I was variously on my feet in debates. The most significant contribution, as will be clear from my earlier posts, was in the Second Reading debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Speaking as the last backbench speaker ensured I was addressing a full chamber. I noticed it was packed when I rose to speak, though given that the sun was shining through the windows directly on me I could only make out a fairly indistinct mass of people around and in front of me, as well as crowded by the Throne. I was amazed by the reaction to the speech (both qualitatively and quantitatively). I have spent 15 years speaking regularly on constitutional issues, but the danger is that I willl get a reputation for making my most notable speeches on the age of consent and on same-sex marriage.
The second highlight was seeing the Prime Minister somewhat more than usual. I have been to No. 1o on various occasions over the years, but this was the first time I attended a BBQ at which the PM served me a hot dog. (I could have had a burger, but he told me they were not quite ready.) As those who follow me on Twitter will know, I also had tea with him shortly before the recess: he came over to the Lords and had tea with me and half-a-dozen other peers. It was a fruitful afternoon.
The third highlight is one that I have already covered. I have found serving on the Joint Committee on the Voting (Prisoner Eligibility) Bill to be extremely interesting, but the unexpected highlight was going to prison. I have already done a post about the visit. It was enlightening, far more productive than I anticipated and gave me much more of an understanding, albeit basic, of our prison system.
These were the highpoints of what was a busy period. Time was also taken up with the regular meetings of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and the executive committee of the Association of Conservative Peers. (I was asked to research the origins of the committee – a somewhat daunting exercise given the absence of records!) I also chaired a working group on overseas voters. There was at times an element of running in order to stand still. The recess provides an opportunity to catch up on my ‘to do’ list. I may just have caught up by the time the House resumes….