Amos appointed leader of UK House of Lords
October 7, 2003
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International Development Secre-tary and Guyana-born, Baroness Valerie Amos has been appointed leader of the House of Lords. The move comes in a mini-reshuffle forced by the sudden death of previous Lords leader, Lord Williams of Mostyn.
She is the first-ever speaker from an ethnic minority appointed to the House of Lords which dates back at least to the 14th century.
Also promoted, to take over her position as international development secretary, is Hilary Benn, son of Tony Benn. Baroness Amos became the first black woman to sit in the cabinet when she replaced Clare Short, who quit her post after the military action in Iraq earlier this year, said a BBC report yesterday. Previously she had been a foreign office minister. Lady Amos takes on her new job at a difficult time for the upper house which has yet to undergo its next stage of reform. Peers are also in the process of considering two of the government’s most controversial pieces of legislation - restricting the right to trial by jury and plans for foundation hospitals. Baroness Amos was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office for two years before joining the cabinet. Previously she was a Government Whip from 1998 to 2001 and a co-opted member, European Union Sub-committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) from 1997-98. Born in March 1954 in Guyana, Valerie Ann Amos began her career in local government, working in various London boroughs from 1981 to 1989. She was educated at Townley Grammar School for Girls before completing a degree in sociology at Warwick University in 1976, a masters degree in cultural studies from Birmingham University in 1977 and doctoral research at University of East Anglia. She was chief executive of the Equal Opportunities Commis-sion from 1989 to 1994, and then director of Amos Fraser Bernard from 1995 to 1998. She became a life peer in 1997, taking the title Baroness Amos, of Brondesbury in the London Borough of Brent.