Lords Diary: Baroness Hoey
Baroness Hoey with her Mini Cooper
In the run up to recess the bills came thick and fast
The Retained EU Law Bill went back to the Commons with amendments, all of which are designed by our pro-EU chamber to make it more difficult to actually revoke retained law without extra hurdles – including a new sifting committee. Ironically there was virtually no scrutiny in either House of the plethora of EU laws handed down to us over many years but revisionism is thriving and as expected the Brexit debate was reignited with strong views expressed during Report Stage.
After 30 years as the MP for Vauxhall I am finally used to an absence of the daily grind of casework. Much of an MP’s work deals with the day-to-day problems of constituents and this lack of urgent calls and emails is the biggest change to my work/life balance. I genuinely miss the contact I had in my surgeries and the satisfaction of helping to solve some problems. Fortunately many who work in Parliament are former constituents so I still get “catch ups” on a regular basis.
Baroness Falkner has been the recipient of ferocious attacks for her handling of trans rights as chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. I was angry at the hatchet job carried out by Channel 4 News on her and happily sign, with around 50 other peers, a letter of complaint to C4 and Ofcom. In my first months as a Member during Covid restrictions, Kishwer was extraordinarily helpful to me and full of good advice. There is no one in this House more incapable of the spurious charges laid against her of “bullying and discrimination” than our colleague. The increasing weaponising of “bullying” being used by those who disagree with anyone who argues for single sex spaces to protect women should worry all of us.
I was angry at the hatchet job carried out by Channel 4 News on Baroness Falkner
For nearly 50 years I have driven original Mini Coopers. I currently have the 40th edition which was the last one made, it knew every street in Vauxhall – and I love it. When I went home to live in Northern Ireland I drove it to the Liverpool ferry, cheerfully hooted at by lorry drivers on the motorway. But now the time has come to say goodbye – I just don’t use it enough and it needs love and attention. The end of an era, there will be a tear as I say goodbye to my faithful little friend.
Five years ago I went to Zimbabwe with Conor Burns to judge the possibilities of that beautiful country having a free and fair election. Expectation was high that everything would change once Robert Mugabe died. But it was another stolen result for Zanu-PF. With Zimbabweans voting again in August the situation is even worse. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been ruthless and cunning. He knows he can’t win against the charismatic young opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) without corruption, abuse of the law, and rigging of the electoral roll. Meanwhile the world’s focus is elsewhere. It was disappointing to see Mnangagwa at King Charles’s coronation – a huge propaganda victory for him and a big mistake from the Foreign Office – diplomacy gone too far.
Enjoying a Northern Ireland heat wave recess and Rathlin Island is at its most beautiful with the corncrake back, wild flowers everywhere and the lark singing every morning above the cottage. But the Framework Protocol, as I call it, is still doing its damage to our trade with Great Britain. Still impossible to get certain seeds and plants from GB and the green lane is not green. Clever hyping by the government may have taken in most politicians but not those who genuinely care about the Union. Treasury, please give me a straight answer: why, when flying from Belfast to the EU, is duty free is not permissible but flying from any airport in GB to the EU is?
Baroness Hoey of Lylehill and Rathlin is a non-affiliated peer
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.