Ann Treneman interviews Gisela Stuart MP and more!!
Women’s Parliamentary Radio
June 10th 2011 The Times Parliamentary sketch writer Ann Treneman interviews Gisela Stuart MP on reform of the Commons and the Lords, Penny Mordaunt MP tells us about her “Special Educational Needs” Bill and we hear how Queen Mothers in Ghana are leading the feminist fight for equality

Ann Treneman and Gisela Stuart MP “Face to Face”

In a packed programme Women’s Parliamentary Radio hears from The Times sketch writer Ann Treneman in the third of her special “Face to Face Encounters” series on reform of Parliament. This week Ann talks to Gisela Stuart the Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston since 1997 and Editor of the House Magazine.

Gisela tells Ann: “The biggest change I have witnessed in Parliament is that it is no longer unusual to see a women on either side of the Benches and the age profile has also improved but not the social profile, we need to reach out to people in the real world who have done a real job rather than those who have been special advisors. There has been progress but the other thing that is different is that we are in the age of irreverence – the status of MPs’ has changed, we had to learn the meaning of that phrase “humble servants”.”

“On MP’s salaries IPSA has not solved the problem yet. Claimable expenses became a salary supplement and allowances which was wrong. We have now gone to the other extreme with IPSA with a regime that is punitive and highly bureaucratic; we are coming step by step to a workable solution there will always be a tension. But remember no-one goes into politics because of the salary.”

“Coming to the hours Parliament is here to be a battle of power and a battle of ideas. Caroline Lucas MP comes from a European tradition which believes that through discourse you come to a right answer, but this is Anglo-Saxon politics which is based on the best solution at any moment and one side wins and one side losses. This House is Anglo-Saxon and comes alive at night, you eyeball each other from swords distance, and if you are not still standing at 10 O’clock you probably don’t deserve to be standing. We need to battle out which idea carries the greatest weight and that might deprive you of your sleep sometimes.”

“The Lords is one of the most British processes I have ever come across. We are having huge debates about the composition of a body without defining what it should do. We should have a debate about its function then its composition would logically flow from that. If it is a revising Chamber, I would have no problem with it being fully appointed but for two ten year terms, why for life?”

Scroll down and you can also hear Ann interview Natascha Engel MP (Lab) who chairs the Backbench Business Committee and The Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP in the same series of “Encounters”. Thanks Ann. These interviews are special.

Penny Mordaunt MP and her “Special Educational Needs Bill”

Penny Mordaunt the Conservative MP for Portsmouth North has introduced a Private Member’s Bill on “Special Educational Needs” provision. Penny wants the money to follow the pupil and even though such Bills rarely become law her Bill is already attracting the attention of Government Ministers and may be taken up as an issue by them in the future eventually leading to change. Penny talks to Boni Sones OBE our Executive Producer.

• Penny tells Boni: ”Provision is one thing, my Bill isn’t addressing should there be more special needs schools, what we need to do is to increase the power parents have and enshrine in law that their children should have access to the best education to help them for their particular needs. It includes other practical measures such as to change the funding flows and ensuring LA’s must publish all the provision that is available in the area to help parents get what their children need.”

• “Most Private Members Bills do get killed off. Labour MP David Blunkett MP is helping with this, it is cross-party, and it is going in the direction of travel of government policies but it is not going far enough. We are trying to get the Government to go further and allow the funding about £5,500 to follow the pupil so special needs places can be purchased by the parents or others. Already it is having an influence, Schools Minister, Sarah Teather MP, has spoken to me about my Bill and we are hoping it will influence the Green Paper on Special Educational Needs.”

To support Penny go to Good luck Penny.

The story of Queen Mothers in Ashantiland, Ghana – Dilys Kyeiwaa Winterkorn

The role of women in the Arab Spring uprisings and now in Bahrain is highlighting the different cultural values placed on the role of women in today’s “global village society”. In one African Country, Ghana, Queen Mothers have traditional had a powerful “feminist” role to play in organising their communities and providing a safety network within them. On issues such as politics, agriculture and education the women speak up and get their voices heard, all thanks to a “golden stool”, and a Queen Mother called Yaa Asantewaa the Great. Dilys Kyeiwaa Winterkorn will tell you more. She spoke to our Executive Producer Boni Sones OBE.


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4. The top four downloads show our cross-party appeal to our listeners: 1. Hazel Blears Interview 203 2. Sally Keeble How the budget is helping grandparents 171 3. Theresa May Interview 159 4. Anne Begg Parliamentary Education Service Question Time 123. 5 Anne Begg – Parliamentary reform and MPs expenses. The ERS documentary on women MPs had 99 downloads.

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