Oona King

Baroness King of Bow (Lab): I begin by declaring an interest as Channel 4’s diversity executive and I am incredibly proud of Channel 4’s legacy as the Paralympic Games broadcaster. I echo the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, about Channel 4’s achievement in changing attitudes towards disability, not least the “Meet the Superhumans” trailer, masterminded by Dan Brooke. It was nothing less than a game-changer. So, too, was the entire legacy promise of London 2012. No previous Olympic Games had ever put legacy at the very heart of the bid. Our legacy promised,

“nothing less than a healthier and more successful sporting nation, open for business, with more active, sustainable, fair and inclusive communities”.

Baroness King of Bow (Lab): My Lords, I thought I would start with a reflection on what a strange breed working mothers are. All you really need to know about us is that we never sleep and continually stress over childcare. Between 1 am last night, when I gave the baby his last feed and started jotting down a few notes for this speech, and 5 am this morning, when my husband got up to feed him, I was woken six times. I have four children so I have no one else to blame but myself. It is my bed and I made it; I just wish I could lie in it, but that is a problem entirely of my own making.

What is not a problem of my own making is that when I drag myself out of said bed and complete several school runs, as I did this morning, and when I finally arrive at my two year-old’s nursery, I find that I must pay £1,100 per month if I want her to go full-time, five days a week. Despite the fact that I am, by definition, extraordinarily privileged because—look—I am standing in this gilded Chamber as a Member of Britain’s most prestigious LinkedIn group, the fact remains that I cannot afford £1,100 a month. So my daughter does not go full time; she goes half time—two and a half days a week. For that I pay £660 a month.

Sunday, 19 May 2013 00:00


Written by

16 May 2013

Baroness King of Bow: My Lords, it has been a great pleasure to serve on this committee. One of the things I liked most about it and this subject is that we were more or less able to approach it from a non-party-political angle. No one in this House would not want to see Britain treat its most vulnerable children in a fairer manner. I say that almost as a disclaimer at the beginning before I have a little bit of a go at some of the Government’s approaches to this issue.

Clearly, I welcome the Government’s desire to improve life chances for children in the care system but you have to look at who these children are. I was shocked and must confess my ignorance because I did not realise that when we talk about children in care today in Britain some 56% of them are over the age of 10 and will never realistically be adopted.

Thursday, 11 October 2012 00:00

Child Development

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Baroness King of Bow: My Lords, in the short time available, I shall concentrate on two areas: the link between positive child development and early intervention strategies, and the link between early intervention strategies and reducing the economic deficit. I also wanted to discuss the link between poor housing and stunted child development, but time limits mean that will have to wait until another day.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012 00:00

The Impact of Poor Housing on Child Development

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Madam Speaker, when I was first elected to the Other Place 15 years ago, I was inundated with pamphlets and reports from my constituency and beyond.

But one that grabbed my attention was called “I musn’t laugh too much”.

Now I like to laugh, so I wanted to understand why anyone would impose such silly advice.

As I read the report I discovered that the title was based on advice given by a doctor to a young woman in a cold, damp and overcrowded flat at the top of a tower block on the Ocean Estate in Stepney.

The report went on to detail the housing conditions the family was living in.

Despite the heating being on constantly, everyone suffered from the cold in the winter and frequently fell ill.

There were no drying facilities and clothes had to be dried in the bathroom and hallway.

There was severe damp which produced black mould and the windows were always dripping wet.

Clothes and bedclothes got ruined by damp.

The three eldest children had asthma and used inhalers.

And the youngest boy had heart trouble and had suffered from persistent colds and coughs since birth.

The doctor warned the family that asthma attacks can be precipitated by fits of laughing - hence the doctorly advice!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011 11:14

Welfare Reform Bill

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30 September 2011

Baroness King of Bow: My Lords, we all believe in welfare reform, making work pay and simplifying the benefits system; and I am sure none of us envy the Minister his job. However, these reforms cut benefits to the point where they undermine the principles of the welfare state and remove the final safety net from some of the most vulnerable people in Britain.

Thursday, 17 March 2011 11:18

Children: Early Intervention

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17 March 2011

Baroness King of Bow: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, for securing this debate and especially for her excellent speech, which summarised the benefits of early intervention. I do not believe that it is hyperbole to say that the future of this country rests on whether we implement successful early intervention strategies-certainly, the future of our children rests on it.

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