There is an opportunity for the charity sector to step into this information breach and provide clear, short, sharp and topical policy briefings for Peers
“The House of Lords is a revising chamber, having the discretion to spend as much time as it feels it needs debating and amending legislation it either originates or which it receives from the House of Commons. And whilst it lacks the teeth to completely deny legislation – the Commons can overturn or vote out any changes it makes – this does not mean it is without relevance. Indeed, for a charity sector campaigning for fair and effective social and health policy on behalf of those who lack a voice, the House of Lords has never been more relevant.
The legacy of the last House of Lords reforms is a chamber with immense knowledge, talent and passion. Peers now bring to the legislative process world-leading expertise in a wide variety of important areas. And this matters for a revising chamber because they are able to deal with the sometimes minute and often complex detail just as much as the big picture.
“Peers are increasingly inundated with emails, tweets and Facebook comments”
But there is a problem. The House of Lords runs on a relative shoe-string. Where our MPs are backed up by a small industry of interns, administrators and researchers, the Lords is poorly resourced. Most members do not have administrative support. Even fewer have access to their own researchers. Instead they must rely on party briefings (for political appointments), briefings from the House of Lords Library and the information that they receive from outside. As you will see in this research, the internet has had a massive impact on the volume of information coming from outside.
And not all of it is positive. We have become much more immediate, issues-based and digitally connected and the rise of the online campaigning organisation has been an important development. But their campaigns run the risk of being little more than the digital equivalent of old-world postcard campaigns. They serve to raise the profile of the issue; to put it on the radar. But it is clear in this research that Peers are increasingly inundated with emails, tweets and Facebook comments without the concomitant increase in resources to manage it.
Peers need concise, positive input that cuts through the noise. This research shows that Peers respect charities and value what they think. It shows us that there is an opportunity for the charity sector to step into this information breach and provide clear, short, sharp and topical policy briefings for Peers on current legislation. I know from my own experience working with the House of Lords that this would be welcomed with open arms. Esther’s research provides us with a clear roadmap for better policy intervention. It describes a way forward for the charity and campaigning sectors to work together to more effectively support, influence and inform the House of Lords.”
Dr Andy Williamson FRSA FCMI MRSNZ
Peering in: An analysis of public and charity sector lobbying in the House of Lords