Lords, Ladies and Politicos

Ten Lords a-LeapingI’ve just spent an hour or so going through the biographies of the members of the House of Lords. Well, those whose names begin with the letters A-F. (It seemed to me that it might be worth writing to members of the House of Lords as well as to MPs and local papers and so on about the whole MMC thing) . They’re a pretty rum bunch, I have to say.

There really is no such thing as a “Typical” Lord, but there are some Types.

The Activist

The men big up their early jobs as postmen or lathe-turners and also lay great stress on their activities in a Union or in Local Government. The women may have spent a few years nursing and lots of years telling other people how to nurse. Some activists were loonie-leftie counsellors in the basket-weaving-black-disabled-lesbian-creche days of the GLC. Others have a long career fighting real problems such as ethnic minority rights.

The Career Civil Servant

Remember Sir Humphrey? He’s now Lord Oleaginous of Patronage.

The Hereditary

Public School, the Royal Agricultural College, a year or two in the Army, and a life either animal husbandry or merchant banking. Or both. No jokes about buggery or the collective noun for bankers being a wunch, please. Mind you, one of the youngest of them lists his career as “artist” and his interest as “keeping bees”.

The Engineer or the Scientist

I was suprised by the number of engineers who end up in the House of Lords. On the other hand, engineering covers quite a wide range of activities: construction, petrochemicals, bio-engineering, even manufacturing. I found it rather comforting to see so many science degrees though.

The Lawyer

A couple of law degrees, a distinguished career, a choice of wigs. Why practice law when you can make it?

The Media Type

These ones have the flakiest or luvviest CVs. I am sorry, but being an advertising agent does not make you one of the great and good. The press barons make this lot look seedy, and when you think how seedy the press barons are, that is quite an achievement.

The Lords are an educated bunch, most of them have good first degrees, (though there are a depressing number of economists on the red benches), and a fair number of them have Masters or Doctorates too. I was particularly impressed by the Physicist who mentioned that he had 14 honorary doctorates.

I’ll tell you something else about the Lords. They are all incredibly well connected. They are networkers par excellence, (apart from the bee-keeping artist). They get involved. They sponsor this, and chair that, and are members of the other, and have been doing it for two, three or even four decades.

Secretly, I’m rather impressed. Some of them are quite clearly deeply experienced professionals: intelligent, educated and probably wise. Others are slimy brown-nosing politicos. There were a fair few of them I’d like to meet. By and large, I was surprised by the diversity in the Upper Chamber.

PS – If you fancy a stint looking for doctors in ermine, please start at the letter L, and post the names of whoever you find in the comments. Not that I’m cadging, or anything.


14 responses to “Lords, Ladies and Politicos

  1. Closest I found in the Gs was Baroness Greenfield, who apparently has a doctorate in pharmacology.

    I just realised I didn’t pay enough attention to their charitable interests to see about health ones though. Pants.

    It is hard to see, sometimes, how you would get an elected bunch of people of the same bredth and who weren’t vested in the political system in quite the same way that, well, elected polititians are. Half the house of commons never seem to have done anything else.

  2. Baroness Ilora Finlay of Llandaff, Consultant Physician in Palliative Medicine. Lectured me in Cardiff medical school. Asked the following written questions in the house this month:

    Baroness Finlay of Llandaff to ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure that junior doctors are not disadvantaged in applying for specialty registrar posts by the Medical Training Application Service’s technical difficulties. HL2501

    Baroness Finlay of Llandaff to ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure that experienced junior doctors do not leave the National Health Service if they are unable to secure an appropriate training post as a result of the move to the Modernising Medical Careers training system. HL2502

    Baroness Finlay of Llandaff to ask Her Majesty’s Government how junior doctors can appeal against a decision not to shortlist them for training posts. HL2503

    Baroness Finlay of Llandaff to ask Her Majesty’s Government how those doctors who do not secure posts in the current Medical Training Application Service round can obtain feedback on their performance in interview. HL2504

    Baroness Finlay of Llandaff to ask Her Majesty’s Government how those doctors who do not secure posts in the current Medical Training Application Service round can view the scores afforded to their application forms. HL2505

    Baroness Finlay of Llandaff to ask Her Majesty’s Government how the Medical Training Application Service is auditing the scoring of application forms to ensure consistency of standards. HL2506

  3. She was appointed a people’s peer in 2001 in the first open contest for membership of the House of Lords.

  4. Sol you are a STAR! I’m not sure about Baroness Greenfield – deeply sexy and impressive though she is. She’s Susan Greenfield and writes and broadcasts about neuro-stuff. Lives with the bloke who does the tax return ads – Adam Hart Davis?

    I too skipped their interests when I was working through, to be honest, but that was because I expected to find more medics than I did. My thought was to write to the medics in ermine, simply because they can then say “I have recived thousands of letters asking me” – hell, its only a stamp.

    Seb, thanks for the information about Baroness Finlay. I had no idea that there were such things as People’s Peers – how very interesting. I had seen her written questions in Hansard.

    Incidentally, I also found Lord Alderdice, who is / was a Consultant Psychiatrist. And three nurses. I’m not 100% sure about them, but for the record they are Baroness Cox, Baroness Cumberlege and Baroness Emerton.

    Any more for any more? It’s quite educative, but time consuming.


  5. Now done H and I. No doctors but some peers with special interests:

    Baroness Hanham
    Non-Executive Member, North West Thames Regional Health Authority 1983-94;
    Chairman, St Mary’s Hospital NHS Trust 2000-;

    Lord Harris of Peckham
    Member, United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals, Governor 1983-98;
    Member, Royal College of Gynaecologists 1984-;
    President, Friends of Guy’s Hospital 1999-
    Chair, Generation Trust, Guy’s Hospital 1984-2004;
    National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery Development Foundation 1984-92;
    Chair, Guy’s and Lewisham NHS Trust 1991-93;
    Deputy Chair, Lewisham NHS Trust 1993-97;
    Tavistock Trust for Aphasia 1993-2003;
    Bowel Cancer and Research Trust 2005-
    Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Radiologists 1992;

    Lord Hayhoe
    Chairman, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust 1993-95;
    Trustee: The Tablet Trust 1989-,
    British Brain and Spine Foundation 1992-2001,
    Liver Research Trust 1994-

    Then of course we have:
    Lord Hunt of Kings Heath – the clue is in the name – “Hunt” rhymes with “hunt”
    Oxford Regional Hospital Board 1972-74;
    Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre 1974-75;
    Secretary Edgware/Hendon Community Health Council 1975-78;
    National Association of Health Authorities:
    Assistant Secretary 1978-79,
    Assistant Director 1979-84,
    Director 1984-90;
    Director, National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts 1990-96;
    Chief Executive NHS Confederation 1996-97;
    Chair National Patient Safety Agency 2004-05

  6. DoctoredThought

    Great Blog!
    Here are the ‘I’ peers. No medics. Posted for general interest.

    Peter Michael Imbert, Baron Imbert QPM (born 27 April 1933 in Kent, England) was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service from 1987 to 1993, and prior to that appointment Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police from 1979 to 1985.

    Peter Anthony Inge, Baron Inge, KG, GCB, PC, DL (born 5 August 1935) was the Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, between 1992 and 1994. On 15 March 1994 he was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal and made Chief of the Defence Staff. Since retiring in 1997 he has been made a life peer and a Knight of the Garter.

    INGLEWOOD (2nd Baron, UK), (William) Richard Fletcher-Vane; cr. 1964. He is also a Conservative politician and one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act of 1999. Created in 1964, the barony of Inglewood is one of the last hereditary baronies created in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

    Alexander Andrew Mackay Irvine, Baron Irvine of Lairg, PC, QC (born 23 June 1940) is a British lawyer and political figure who served as Lord Chancellor under his former pupil barrister Tony Blair.

  7. They are an interesting bunch aren’t they DoctoredThought? I’m trying to stick to the medics or others with a proven interest in the NHS though I do get distracted by some of them.

    I’ve finally found another one:

    Lord Kilpatrick of Kincraig
    Medical Registrar, Edinburgh 1951-54;
    Sheffield University:
    Lecturer 1955-66,
    Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 1966-75,
    Dean, Faculty of Medicine 1971-74;
    Member, General Medical Council 1972-76, 1979-, President 1989-95;
    Chairman, Society of Endocrinology 1975-78;
    Chairman, Advisory Committee on Pesticides 1975-87;
    Leicester University 1975-89:
    Dean, Faculty of Medicine 1975-89,
    Professor and Head of Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 1975-83,
    Professor of Medicine 1984-89;
    President, British Medical Association 1997-98
    FRCP (Ed) 1963;
    FRCP 1975;
    FRCPGlas 1991;
    Hon. FRCS, 1995;
    Hon. FRCP, Dublin 1995;
    Hon. FRCS, Edinburgh 1996;
    Hon. RC Path. 1996;
    Hon. FRCP (Ed) 1996;
    FRSE 1998

    Ls next….. Anyone?

  8. DoctoredThought

    Interesting this one. Not a medic but an honourary fellow of Royal College of Psychiatrists and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health amongst (many) other things….

    Helena Ann Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws QC, FRSA, (born in Glasgow, 12 May 1950) is a British barrister, broadcaster and Labour member of the House of Lords. She currently chairs the Human Genetics Commission, which advises the UK government on ethical, social and legal issues arising from developments in genetic science.

    * Created Life Peer in 1997, gazetted as “Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, of Cathcart in the City of Glasgow”.
    * Created a member of the French Académie Universelle des Cultures by the French government.
    * Created Cavalier di Gran Croce (Italy’s highest honour) by the President of Italy, 2004.
    * Appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques, 2006, by the French government.
    * Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2005.
    * Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2005.
    * Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).
    * Honorary Fellow, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
    * Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute.

    * Honorary Doctorates of Law: University of Strathclyde 1992, University of Teeside 1993, Keele University 1994, Lancaster University 1994, Leeds Metropolitan University 1995, University of Bristol 1997, University of Wolverhampton 1997, The Open University 1997, University of Abertay Dundee 1997, Tavistock Centre under the auspices of the University of East London 1997, University of Derby 1998, University of Leicester 1998, University of York 1999, National University of Ireland 2000, University of Aberdeen 2000, Oxford Brookes University 2001, Caledonian University 2001, Robert Gordon University 2002, Judicial Academy of Russia 2002, Polytechnic University of Tomsk 2002, Middlesex University 2003, De Montfort University 2004, University of Sheffield 2005, University of Staffordshire 2005, University of Paisley 2005, University of Edinburgh 2005

  9. The Witch Doctor

    There was an omission in the Dod’s Parliamentary Companion’s biog. of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff.

    As well as being very active in the Medical Women’s Federation, she was also, in a previous life, Advisor to Medical Women in the University of Glasgow.

    It is likely, therefore, that she is very well aware of the increasing proportion of females now graduating from UK medical schools (over 60%). She will also be aware that during her time as advisor that a very high proportion of women doctors chose:
    1. To take time out to have children
    2. To work part-time for many years
    3. Not to aim for, nor ever want to be, a hospital consultant.
    4. To be happy with a “work portfolio.” A nice little bit of work here and there gradually increasing as children grow up.

    I wonder whether this historical working pattern is as valid today as it was 20 years ago. If so, Baroness Finlay could have asked if this was taken into account when MMC was conceived – ie that half the medical workforce might choose to disappear for a while. Not only to the Antipodes but to nappies, toddlers, parent’s nights and the kitchen sink.

    If the calculations are wrong then it may be a very, very bad time for a Modern Medical Cull.

    If the calculations are correct then it may be a good time to introduce a sub-consultant grade to attract women doctors designing a work portfolio.

    Did anyone do the calculations?

    Perhaps it is no longer politically correct to raise the issue of differences in working patterns between the sexes.

    Some were critical when Dame Carol Black touched on a closely related subject.

  10. I didn’t know any of that about Helena Kennedy, DoctoredThought. She is one of those women, like Susan Greenfield, who manage to be awe-inspiring role-models rather than off-putting clever-cloggs.

    I suspect that Baroness Finlay may be our best bet anywhere at Westminster, Witch Doctor. And yes – you’d like to think that the demographic had been taken into account. Doctoring at a certain level could be a very family-friendly profession being well enough paid to make part-time work more than viable. Coulda-woulda-shoulda.

    Thanks to both of you for commenting.


  11. Witch Doctor, I’m not sure why subconsultant would be more attractive to women than hospital consultant. One of the plans behind MMC is to get patients seen by trained doctors, rather than doctors-in-training, which may involve subconsultants doing more work resident on-call, while the consultants are few in number, and do more admin and less clinical work (although I imagine this would be more down to rota planning by NHS Trusts than an overhaul of training).

    The women who do not want to be a hospital consultant are not likely to want to be a subconsultant – I thought these women don’t want to be hospital consultants because they want to be GPs (probably linked to the general drive to get more conditions managed in primary care).

    Disclaimer: I am a man with little knowledge of women’s issues in medicine so I’m just speculating.

  12. Unfortunately Susan Greenfield isn’t an awe inspiring role model – she’s a muppet who’s never done any important research in her life. She’s only where she is for ‘political’ reasons. There are lots of genuinely excellent female scientists who aren’t as relentlessly self-promoting.

  13. Interesting debate about women in Medicine, Seb.

    Shame about Susan Greenfield, J Z Young. Now that you mention it, I can see that she would well be shamelessly self-promoting rather than a good scientist. Oh well. But better to have a woman who is visible because she is shamelessly self-promoting, than no women visible at all.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.


  14. The Witch Doctor

    Excluding the faulty computer system, I have been struggling for weeks now trying to assess where MTAS/MMC sits in the altruism / incompetencey / conspiracy spectrum.

    The “trained doctors” versus “doctor-in-training” concept may indeed be an altruistic aspiration. It could also be a smoke screen.

    It struck me that, considering females now predominate numerically in medicine, there has been very little open discussion regarding the working patterns of women doctors or the impact of this on health care. It seems inconceivable that these demographic changes have not been considered.

    Important reasons why there has be an influx of women doctors into general practice in the past relates to the fact that this specialty offered early professional independence, relative mobility to follow their partners, and the option of sessional work when needed most. Most hospital specialties could not be relied upon to provide these things. Clinical assistant, staff grade and associate specialist posts were much sought after but few and far between in many specialties. If there was to be a large expansion in a new type of “alternative consultant” which provided the same advantages as general practice, women with family commitments might be very interested.

    The centralized MTAS/MMC system is not female friendly. Women with domestic ties simply cannot pack their bags, and set up home in an unknown part of the country, in an unknown specialty, in an unknown hospital, with an unknown on-call commitment. At face value, the demographics have been ignored. Or have they?

    Was the application process designed to select mobile (predominantly male) doctors as “proper” consultants? Was there really ever going to be a cull of UK doctors? Was the aim to divert UK women doctors into suitable local “Alternative Consultant” part-time posts particularly attractive to them because of a kind of consultant status? Similar to the “Nurse Consultant” perhaps. Was the real cull to be of immigrant doctors in order to release some of these “alternative” posts?

    Does this amount to sexual discrimination?

    Does this amount to racial discrimination?

    Is it good for patient care?

    What are the great and the good in the deaneries, colleges, and parliament really thinking?

    I still have far more questions than answers. The demography needs to be discussed openly and fairly. Until this happens the smoke will not clear.

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