Ever since parliament has existed, it has been necessary to pass laws to protect people – from robbers and rapists to landlords and loan-sharks.  Parallel to this has been a system of regulation – initially self-regulation by guilds or professions: from barbers and doctors to lawyers, accountants and surveyors.  Sometimes regulation was to help the professions (“raising the bar” against new entrants), sometime to drive up standards and to protect the consumer, patient or user, sometimes to reduce insurance costs by enforcing minimum standards, and occasionally to increase accountability.  The interplay of self-regulation and law has changed over the years, with increased consumer demands both for high quality service but also for a say in the regulation (and discipline) of professionals or providers, together with improved complaint handling and redress.

The move from self-regulation to legislation is normally hard fought by the professions – or the big institutions, such as banks and the press – both categories protesting that their ethical and service standards are beyond reproach.  But the move to parliamentary intervention has continued as many have been found wanting. 

The lecture will look at some recent developments in the regulation of doctors, lawyers and financial services in the context of the banking crisis, and other recent events in the press, pension and legal worlds, and will examine how the voice of the “end user” (the client, patient, customer, consumer) can be built into regulation or heard in the legislative process.

Professor Hayter will draw on her experience both in the regulatory environment (having Chaired the Legal Services Consumer Panel, the Actuarial Users Group and the Property Standards Board, and served as Vice Chair of the Financial Services Consumer Panel and a member of the Board for Actuarial Services and of the Surveyors Ombudsman Service) and within Parliament (where she was on the Front Bench Opposition Team on the 2012 Financial Services Bill) to consider how our democratic and regulatory structures can best respond to the consumer voice, with particular reference to plans to replace the existing Second Chamber by another predominated elected House.

Professor Dianna Hayter

Dianne Hayter has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in political life, in the charitable and public sectors, and within the trade union movement. Her career also includes a period as a reporter and researcher for Channel 4. She plays a leading role in several London charities and is an active member of the House of Lords.

Dianne Hayter was actively engaged in the re-positioning of the Labour Party during the 1980s, demonstrating a powerful political realism that helped bring the party back into the mainstream of British politics, and thereby contributed to the success of Labour during the 1990s. She has lived through and contributed to the contemporary political development of Britain and Europe. She is the author of Fightback! Labour's Traditional Right in the 1970s and 1980s (2005).

Dianne will give a number of lectures to Westminster History students during the three-year period of her Visiting Professorship and will contribute to the History Research Seminar Programme. She will give an inaugural public lecture.

Watch this inaugural lecture on YouTube