Elizabeth Berridge, until very recently, was the youngest woman in the House of Lords, the UK’s upper house in Parliament. Raised to the peerage in the 2011, she was before that a barrister and then in 2006 became Executive Director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship which exists to bring together Conservative Party voting Christians of all denominations. She describes herself as a classic Tory ‘wet’, as opposed to the ‘Dry’ Thatcherite end of the party’s spectrum. If that terminology is rather meaningless to you (oreven sounds mildly offensive!) then listen in!
Having met a few times over the years, it was great, some weeks before Christmas, to meet her in her offices on Millbank, just opposite the Sovereign’s Entrance to Parliament. Our conversation ranged over all kinds of things, including her faith, her different career changes, what is like being in the House of Lords (where the classic definition of their privilege is that members have ‘a seat, a voice and a vote.’)
In particular, it was good to hear of her passionate concern for religious freedom around the world. She is currently the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom – which recently produced an excellent report called Article 18: An Orphaned Right which refers to the 18th Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
You can find out more about what she gets up to on her website, and on the TheyWorkForYou record of her activity in Parliament.