No ermine-trimmed scarlet robes were on display at the Todmorden U3A AGM where the guest speaker was the Rt Hon the Lord Shutt of Greetland and Stainland, explaining something of the workings of the House of Lords.
His lordship, or David as he’s more likely to be known, told to his audience that the robes only come out on ceremonial occasions. But before that, the retiring chair, Gwen Goddard, gave her report in which she expressed her satisfaction at seeing an increase in membership, as well as an increase in the attendance at general meetings.
Gwen also expressed her thanks to all her fellow officers and committee members for the work they did, and the support they had given her during her year of office. David Shutt was then introduced by the new chairman, David Cross.
David outlined a typical day in the House. Bills are also introduced into the Lords as well as the Commons. The first reading of a Bill is just a presentation of the document, the second reading is when members get down to consider it and this stage is when debates first take place. After the second reading the Bill goes to the committee stage - where detailed line by line examination of the Bill and discussion of amendments takes place.
If the Bill is amended it is reprinted to include all the agreed amendments. The Bill then moves to third reading for the final chance for the Lords to debate and amend the Bill. The Bill then goes to the Commons, and if any of their Lordships amendments are opposed by the lower house, then a ping-pong process may ensue, David said.
Legislation takes up two-thirds of the time of the Lords, the rest is spent in debates. Political differences are less pronounced in the Lords than in the Commons – and MPs themselves know little of the Lords.
In answers to questions, David said that there would be a better geographical representation in an elected Lords. Presently there are only three Lords from Yorkshire.
In her report, outgoing Chair, Gwen Goddard had remarked on the high quality of the speakers Todmorden U3A had had during the past year and Lord David Shutt continued that line of interesting and amusing speakers. The University of the Third Age meets in Todmorden on the third Thursday of every month - see the What’s On pages of this newspaper, and find out all of its activities at www.u3atod.org.uk