Different hats….

Lord Norton MSP_7912I hold several positions, with the result that I often find I have a fairly full diary as a result of working to fulfil them.  Yesterday was a day for rushing around as a result of wearing several hats.  In the morning it was a case of getting over to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in Victoria Street – a rare opportunity to get out of the Palace – for a meeting wearing my hat as co-chair of the Higher Education Commission, for a preliminary discussion on the funding of taught postgraduate degrees prior to a meeting with the minister next month.  The Commission produced a well-received report in the subject a couple of years ago.

It was then back to the Palace for lunch and then, wearing my dual academic/parliamentarian hat, to the Attlee Suite in Portcullis House to chair a panel on bicameral legislatures, part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s 63rd Westminster Seminar on Parliamentary Practice and Procedure.  The panel comprised parliamentarians from two bicameral systems (Lord Richard from the UK, Senator Omondi from Kenya’s new second chamber) and one unicameral system (New Zealand MP Andrew Williams).  There were several questions, but it was one of those occasions which could have run on for ages.  Andrew Williams conceded that what could be seen as the benefit of a unicameral system (speed in getting measures through) could also be seen as a problem.

I was able to spend some time in the chamber before, wearing my academic hat (teaching), I chaired the final session of the semester with my students on placement in Westminster.  I then headed to the Speaker’s State Rooms for the Speaker’s Lecture by Lord Heseltine on ‘Parliament and Industrial Policy’.  It was a professional performance, detailing and justifying his approach to industrial regeneration.  I attended in my capacity as a parliamentarian, though I have acquired the status of attender-in-chief, the Speaker (not for the first time) drawing attention to the fact I have endeavoured to attend every lecture since they began in January 2011.

The day was unusual, though, in that I managed to  get away from the Palace shortly before 10.00 p.m. – by my standards, an early finish.

Today was somewhat different in that I only had one major commitment.  As a peer, and particularly as convenor of the Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber, I was in the chamber for a five-hour debate on the report of the Labour Peers Working Group on The Future of the House and its Place in the Wider Constitution.  I was one of just over thirty speakers.  It was a useful debate, with a measure of agreement on a number of reforms that could be implemented to strengthen the House.

As for the evening commitment – that’s catching the last Hull Trains service to Hull.  There’s an exam board tomorrow…

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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3 Responses to Different hats….

  1. Lord Norton,

    I note that nothing related to keeping house, managing your literary opus and estate, writing itself nor any mention of blogging (except that this post appeared) have marked this recounted schedule of events. A bit of a holiday then?

  2. Lord Norton says:

    franksummers3ba: The list was illustrative rather than exhaustive – my more exotic hats rather than my everyday headgear…

  3. maude elwes says:

    I watched a good part of the debate in the Lords on the Campaign for an Effective House and it truly was enlightening listening. The one difficulty I found, was I felt I agreed with many of the speakers who had differing points of view. However, the one view I didn’t like, was to build a new Parliament elsewhere with an up to date state of the art IT room. The IT room can easily be provided for in the rooms often left empty for days or weeks on end in the present building. Westminster Palace is beautiful and its history is important to us all. That guy who proposed this was a noonch, didn’t appreciate it for what it is. And modern architecture cannot compete with a place like this. I did, however, go along with the idea of another Peer who suggested the state opening of Parliament should be only once per sitting and not as it is now. It’s pretty but too expensive and unnecessary for the functioning of government.

    You looked thoroughly credible though, serious and attentive. It felt strange watching, almost as if I knew you. Now how is that?

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