Baroness O’Cathain visited Portchester Community School on Friday 9th March 2012. She spoke to over 100 students and answered questions on a variety of subjects which ranged from her views on the Coalition Government to what she considered the biggest changes in Britain in her lifetime.
She began by outlining the work of The House of Lords, telling us that as a Peer she cannot vote. The only other groups of non-voters are lunatics and long term prisoners! So, she said she is in good company!
The House of Commons represents us, the people. We elect the representatives. However, the House of Lords represents nobody. It is only there to scrutinise the work of The House of Commons.
The Baroness said she begins work at 3:00 pm every day and sometimes finishes at midnight. She is a member of committees which can slow down and even block bills that have been written by members of House of Commons. There are 850 members of the House of Lords, with 26 Bishops, ex MPs, academics, doctors, nurses, heads of industry and others from a whole range of backgrounds. The youngest peer is 37 and the oldest is 97.
Students from The Rights, Respect and Responsibility Group, School Council and Year 11 Citizenship classes asked about the riots in Summer of 2011, the financial crisis, the armed forces and economy.
When asked what she thought about Afghanistan she said that we should pull troops out now. When asked what change she should make to British politics she said an end to the theatricality of Prime Minister’s Question Time which she described as “a barnyard of Ya, Boo politics”.
As she reflected on the major changes in her lifetime she said:
“How many of you ever have your shoes mended?”
“Who doesn’t have a mobile phone?” When she was young “We made do”, we did not throw things away, and we mended and fixed things. Also we did not have 24 hour communication.
Her motto is, “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. As the first woman on the executive board of British Airways, Tesco and The Bank of England, it is evident that she has lived according to her beliefs. She will be someone who leaves this world a better place for having been here. If only all of us could say that.