Frances D'Souza, Baroness D'Souza

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The Baroness D'Souza

Baroness D'Souza 2013.png
Lord Speaker of the House of Lords
In office
1 September 2011 – 31 August 2016
Preceded byThe Baroness Hayman
Succeeded byThe Lord Fowler
Convener of the Crossbench Peers
In office
6 November 2007 – 31 August 2011
Preceded byThe Lord Williamson of Horton
Succeeded byThe Lord Laming
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
1 July 2004
Life Peerage
Personal details
Frances Gertrude Claire Russell

(1944-04-18) 18 April 1944 (age 75)
Sussex, United Kingdom
Political partyCrossbench
Other political
Non-affiliated (2011–2016)
Spouse(s)Stanislaus Joseph D'Souza
(1959–1974 & 2003–present)
Martin John Griffiths (1985–94)
Alma materUniversity College London
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
CommitteesProcedure Committee (2005–present)
House (2007–present)
Selection; Privileges; Liaison; Administration and Works (2007–2011)[1]

Frances Gertrude Claire D'Souza, Baroness D'Souza, CMG, PC (née Russell; born 18 April 1944) is a British scientist and life peer. She was previously Lord Speaker, having held the office from 1 September 2011 to 31 August 2016.

Early life, education and early career[edit]

Frances Gertrude Claire Russell, the daughter of Robert Anthony Gilbert and Pauline (née Parmet) Russell, was educated at St Mary's School, Princethorpe, and went to University College London to read anthropology, graduating BSc in 1970. She subsequently undertook further study at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil.) in 1976. She worked for the Nuffield Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition from 1973–77, Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) from 1977–80, and was an independent research consultant for the United Nations from 1985-88. From 1989 to 2002, she was the director of the human rights organization Article 19.


In 1959 she married Dr Stanislaus D'Souza, with whom she had two children; they divorced in 1974. From 1985 to 1994 she was married to Martin Griffiths. In 2003 she and D'Souza remarried. Their elder daughter is the journalist Christa D'Souza.[2][3]


D'Souza was invested as a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1999.[4]

House of Lords[edit]

D'Souza was created a Lord Temporal as Baroness D'Souza, of Wychwood in the County of Oxfordshire, on 1 July 2004.[1] She sat as a crossbencher in the House of Lords, where she was the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers from 2007 to 2011 with attendance "well above average".[2][5]

On 13 July 2011, D'Souza was elected Lord Speaker of the House of Lords and began her new role in September 2011.[6]

In December 2015 the results of a Freedom of Information request[7] revealed that D'Souza spent £230 to keep a chauffeured car waiting while she watched a performance of Benjamin Britten's Gloriana with the chairman of the Federation Council of Russia. The journey was just a mile from the Houses of Parliament. She spent £270 holding a car for four and a half hours while she had lunch with the Japanese ambassador in central London. It was also revealed that a 10-day official trip to Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the autumn of last year cost nearly £26,000, and that she had spent £4,000 across a five-year period on fresh flowers for her office at the taxpayer's expense.[8][9]

D'Souza's term as Lord Speaker ended on 31 August 2016.[10] After returning to the crossbenches she called for urgent action to address the growing size of the House of Lords, including limits on the Prime Minister's patronage power.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b "Baroness D'Souza". UK Parliament. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Convenors of the Crossbench Peers". The office of the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  3. ^ "My parents' love affair comes full circle". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Index to British Orders". Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Baroness D'Souza". They Work For You. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  6. ^ "Baroness D'Souza elected new Lords Speaker". BBC News. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Lord Speaker's expenses reveal £230 bill for chauffeur to wait outside opera". The Guardian. 22 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Crace, John (15 April 2016). "On the niceness of Mr Nice, and the mystery of the shrinking python". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Lord Fowler elected as new Lord Speaker - News from Parliament". UK Parliament. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  11. ^ D'Souza, Baroness (4 December 2016). "We must address the House of Lords' size, for the good of parliament". The Constitution Unit Blog. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  12. ^ "House of Lords: Size - Hansard Online". Retrieved 9 December 2016.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Lord Williamson of Horton
Convenor of the Crossbench Peers
Succeeded by
The Lord Laming
Preceded by
The Baroness Hayman
Lord Speaker
Succeeded by
The Lord Fowler