I was appointed to the House of Lords in October 2019, having served as leader of Newport City Council and the head of the Welsh Local Government Association.

My appointment came as part of the dissolution honours list of the outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, with a recommendation by the First Minister of Wales.

I made my introduction to the Lords on November 4, 2019, choosing that date to coincide with the 180th anniversary of the Newport Rising – when over 3,000 people gathered outside the Westgate Hotel as part of the Chartist protest.

It remains an important celebration and with the name of the city taken in my title, I also wanted to refer to that historic protest in my maiden speech.

From one key moment in history however to another. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant we have just lived through the strangest and most remarkable period in our lives.

Alongside new ways of interacting with family and friends, we have also had to adjust to different ways of working.

In the Lords, this has meant making arrangements for a so-called ‘Hybrid House’ that has allowed members to be able to participate either physically in the chamber or online.

This way of operating has been used to conduct all business, including legislation, with normal procedures followed as far is practical.


Within my role in the Labour Lords whips team, I have been dealing with the monitoring and managing of daily business. Meanwhile, as the front bench spokesperson for women and equalities, I was closely involved in the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill – landmark legislation that will ensure greater protection for victims and, indeed, potential victims.

In the course of our debates on that bill, and working with others from around the Lords, we secured several important changes.

These included making new offences of non-fatal strangulation and threats to release intimate images, and getting the government to agree to conduct reviews of child contact centres and the sharing of migrant victim data.

We also successfully pressed the Home Office to commit to publish a strategy for prosecution and management of abusers and stalkers.

To coincide with the new parliamentary session, and following a front bench reshuffle, I am delighted to have now taken up a new portfolio as shadow spokesperson for Wales in the Lords. This will mean I am working closely with Nia Griffiths MP, our shadow secretary of state, in ensuring that issues affecting Wales are given the appropriate platform at both ends of Parliament.

In 2019-21, the House of Lords scrutinised and revised 59 bills, asking government and the House of Commons to think again on issues – and in doing so, forcing changes to legislation that may otherwise have not been made.

But as well as fulfilling this scrutiny role, members like myself are also able to raise issues of public concern and challenge ministers through oral and written questions.

I am looking forward to doing all of this, holding the government to account on behalf of Wales – and championing successful policies that other parts of the UK might in time adopt.