The House of Lords’ vital work must continue | Letter from Norman Fowler

Digital advances mean that members can continue to question ministers and that opportunity should be taken, writes Lord Speaker Norman Fowler

In the days before the House of Lords broke for the Easter recess, daily attendance dropped sharply. Many members followed the health advice to work from home and the result was that average daily attendance, which was 458 in the 2017-19 session, fell to below 100 in the last week before the recess.

It would be wrong if this action by the majority of members, which was very much in the broader public interest, should result in them being cut off from the proceedings of parliament when it returns to work. Digital advances mean that members can continue to question ministers, and that opportunity should be taken. Holding the government to account is one of our key constitutional duties, but it is not just about scrutiny.

Because of the makeup of the Lords there is a wide spread of men and women who have substantial experience in the subjects that are now at the front of the current coronavirus crisis. We have peers who are experienced in nursing, medicine, housing and welfare, not to mention those with experience in economics, including three former chancellors. In such a critical period in our national life, it is important that the work of government continues to be subject to scrutiny, but it is also important that we pool our collective national experience.
Norman Fowler
Lord Speaker

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