Former postal workers’ leader Lord Young, 79, tried to take part in a debate on genetically modified organisms – but he was given short shrift by a furious Tory whip
A Labour peer was scolded by a furious Tory for being ‘fast asleep’ in a House of Lords debate.
Lord Young of Norwood Green stood up just after 10pm to speak in the catchily-titled Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2022.
But the 79-year-old was blocked from taking part by a Tory whip, who claimed he had been snoozing earlier on – and had to be woken by a member of Lords staff.
The former postal workers’ union leader protested he was “not now” asleep. According to Hansard, he protested: “I was not…”.
It is not the first time someone has been accused of being asleep in Parliament, and previously some of those accused have insisted they were awake.
MPs with hearing problems, for example, have been seen listening to speakers that are embedded in seats, while shutting their eyes to concentrate.
But it is rare for one person in Parliament to directly accuse another of snoozing on the job.
As he stood to speak in the debate, Lord Young said: “I wanted to take part in this debate because I stake my position as somebody who is a Remainer.
“But if there’s two things that I welcome in coming out of the Common Market, one is the CAP and this particular gene editing…”
Government whip Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist intervened to say: “I am sorry, but the noble lord was fast asleep for the entire duration of the minister’s speech.
“He really should not participate in this debate having failed to take advantage of the ability to hear him.”
Lord Young, a former union boss who has also served as a BBC governor, replied: “Sorry?”
Lady Bloomfield said: “I am afraid the noble lord was fast asleep for the entirety of the minister’s opening speech.”
Lord Young replied that he was “not now” asleep, but Lady Bloomfield said: “Well I had to send a note to you – in order to wake you up – by the doorkeeper.”
The Draft Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2022 debated by peers would allow the UK to deviate from EU law on genetic modification of crops.
The regulations would allow greater freedom for the practice of gene editing of plants in the UK.
Environment minister Lord Benyon said the regulations would allow the UK to “remain at the forefront” of research into GM crops.