Call for annual House of Lords debate in memory of Norwich’s Baroness Hollis

Baroness Hollis meeting pensioners in Norwich in 2000. Pic: Simon Finlay.

Baroness Hollis meeting pensioners in Norwich in 2000. Pic: Simon Finlay. - Credit: EDP © 2000

A call has been made for Parliament to hold an annual debate in honour of Labour peer and former leader of Norwich City Council Patricia Hollis.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham died last month aged 77, after a long illness.

And fellow Labour peer Lord Bassam of Brighton, speaking in the House of Lords, said her lifelong work to lift people out of poverty should be honoured with an annual 'Hollis Debate'.

Lord Bassam, who made the comments during a debate about the impact on family life of benefit changes, including universal credit, said: 'Patricia was a big figure nationally and locally in her home town of Norwich.

'She was greatly respected for her work, championing measures that attacked poverty and promoting the interests of women in the social security and pension system.

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'Today I intend to invite the government to instigate an annual Hollis Debate to be held in her memory, to consider what best can be done to tackle poverty and its causes.

'Patricia's passion in tackling poverty was borne of personal experience - something both she and I shared, and which helped hone her arguments.

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'Her father was a farm labourer and her mother worked in service — which, curiously, were jobs which my mother undertook in raising me in rural Essex during hard times.

'More importantly, Patricia Hollis argued rightly that we need to stop looking at the cuts to benefits in isolation, instead looking holistically at the impact of multiple cuts.

'When Patricia made an argument everyone listened, even when they did not want to hear it.'

The call was backed by other members of the House of Lords, with Baroness Drake hailing her 'wonderful achievements and unquenchable commitment to those less well off'.

Baroness Hollis was a lecturer in modern history, reader and dean at the University of East Anglia (UEA) from 1967 to 1990.

She served on Norwich City Council from 1968 to 1991, and leading the council from 1983 to 1988.

She was the Labour parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth in 1974, and again in 1979, and was a Norfolk county councillor from 1978 to 1982.

In 1990 she was made a life peer.

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