Maddock, Diana (3 of 7). The History of Parliament Oral History Project
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2017-03-09; 2017-04-27; 2017-07-12
House of Lords, London, England, UK
Maddock, Diana, 1945- (speaker, female)
White, Isobel, 1956- (speaker, female)
Part 3: Describes winning the by-election in Christchurch in 1993 and making her acceptance speech. She was not able to take her seat until after the summer recess. [02:56] Talks of the demands of constituency work and the long hours in Parliament; initially she lived in the Royal Horseguards Hotel and had an office in the Norman Shaw North building which she shared with David Rendel (MP for Newbury). [05:24] As there were only 26 Liberal Democrat MPs she had to learn to speak on anything very quickly as a Liberal Democrat would always be called to speak. She recalls help from the other Liberal Democrat MPs but no assistance from the House authorities. [07:18] Describes the sittings of the Finance Bill Committee in 1994; on Tuesdays the Committee sat from 4.30pm to midnight. Alan Beith (who would be here second husband) was on the same Committee. At this time she wondered what she was doing and reflects on the strangeness of Parliament for a woman. [09:59] Became housing spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats and sat on the Standing Committee on the Housing Bill where she had an amendment accepted by the Government. [11:38] Came to know the people in other parties who were working on housing issues and the homeless. [12:00] In her second year in Parliament she came top in the ballot for Private Member’s Bills. She took on a Bill about energy conservation in buildings. Alan Beith’s Bill on this issue had been talked out in the previous session. Describes the process of piloting a Private Member’s Bill through Parliament. [15:11] Comments on the atmosphere in the House of Commons at this time; she felt many Members regarded it as a game and were not interested in how to change the lives of their constituents. She developed a technique for dealing with requests to “give way” and some coping strategies to help when she was baited by other Members, because she was a woman and because she was a Liberal Democrat. [17:53] There was a heavy workload in her constituency, which was a big one, about 70,000 electors. She held weekly surgeries (held in public libraries). [18:50] Talks about the general election in 1997; her Conservative opponent was Christopher Chope. She had good staff and good support but lost, by 2,000 votes. After the election she took time off to get used to not being a MP and accepted a life peerage soon afterwards. [23:12] Reflects on her career in the House of Lords, where she has been a Liberal Democrat spokesperson and a Whip, and on the differences to the House of Commons. Comments on how women are more respected in the Lords.
Life story interview with Baroness Maddock of Christchurch (1945-), former Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament.