Have you ever considered grilling a member of The House of Lords? Like most people, you probably assumed that accessing such an opportunity would be highly unlikely. However, students from Ballyclare Secondary School defied the odds and were ready and waiting to ask Lord McFall their burning questions via video conferencing software, Zoom, on the morning of Thursday, 1st February, 2018.
Who is Lord McFall?
Lord McFall of Alcluith is the first Senior Deputy Speaker of The House of Lords, was appointed on 21 July 2016 and took up office on 1 September 2016.
What does the Senior Deputy Speaker do?
The Senior Deputy Speaker has a number of duties:
- He is the spokesperson in the House for the House of Lords Commission. All parliamentary business relating to the Services Committee and Finance Committee is submitted to the Senior Deputy Speaker who may assign responsibility for answering written questions or debates to the relevant committee chairman
- He is empowered to act in the absence of the Lord Speaker, for example to recall the House during a period of adjournment.
- He is chairman of the Privileges and Conduct Committee
o Procedure Committee
o Liaison Committee
o Committee of SelectionBy agreement with the Usual Channels, he can propose members of the Lords to fill casual vacancies on select committees.
- He has general supervision and control over private bills and hybrid measures.
- He chairs the Freedom of Information Panel.
What happened throughout the video conference?
Upon arrival, Lord McFall gave a short introduction before inviting the students to ask him questions. Each student came to the laptop in turn to ask their question(s) and then remained there while Lord McFall answered so that he could engage directly with them, whilst still being visible to the other students via the projector. Students’ questions included, “What do you think the impact of Brexit will be on young people?” “What are your views on the current political situation in Northern Ireland?” and “What are your views on the gender pay gap that has been recently highlighted in the media?” Students also grilled Lord McFall on his views concerning issues, such as, abortion; same sex marriage; religion and politics and of course – the royal wedding!
All students’ thoroughly enjoyed the conference, stating, …
“As a school, we would like to thank Lord McFall for taking the time to talk to us and for inspiring students to achieve their goals in their chosen fields of interest.”