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Peer calls for quicker Lords reform


Honorary doctorate for outstanding public service and contribution to policing

Liberal Democrat life peer Baroness Harris of Richmond has called for quicker reform of the House of Lords, to make it more inclusive and representative of the general population.

Speaking as she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bradford, the former council chair said: “There are far too few women in the Houses of Parliament. There are even fewer members – of either sex – of colour or sexual orientation in either chamber. This is utterly unacceptable in this era. It is vitally important for the future of this country that we recognize this and start making proper plans to be more inclusive in so many areas of our public and private lives.

“It is shameful that we have to talk about diversity and inclusion as if it is an ‘extra’ to add on to a form. We must learn to live together in harmony and work together for the good of a nation that doesn’t always appear to be very helpful to those less fortunate. Only by recognizing each other’s worth as human beings can we survive in horrendously difficult times.”

The daughter of a clergyman, Angela Felicity Harris was born on January 4, 1944 in Lancashire, moving to Richmond, North Yorkshire when she married. She became a life peer in October 1999 but prior to that led a long and illustrious career as a pioneering politician. She was the first woman to chair the North Yorkshire County Council and the North Yorkshire Police Authority. A magistrate for 16 years, she was also a Deputy Lieutenant for North Yorkshire until 2019. From 2000-2008, she acted as Liberal Democrat Whip.

She recalled: “I became involved in student politics when I was at college but it wasn’t until my 30s I got seriously involved. I was always keen to help my community wherever I lived and I think this was ingrained from being very small.

“I used to go with my father to visit the sick and elderly parishioners and I knew then that I wanted to help people in some way. I am excited by the campaigning that can be done within politics – I love organizing events and working behind the scenes.”

She cites becoming a town councillor and the first female Police Authority chair among her finest moments, saying of the latter: “There had never been a woman chair before and being given the opportunity to put a rather different face on what had been an all-male set-up was both exciting and challenging.” She added being a peer was “something I never imagined doing in a million years.”

She received her honorary doctorate in recognition of her distinguished service and outstanding contribution to the public sector and policing in the UK and said she was “thrilled” with the award, adding: “I was invited to [your university] in August 2017 and was immediately struck by the ethos - its enthusiasm for learning in many disciplines - and its friendliness. There was a lovely atmosphere you don’t always find in places of learning.”


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