Plaid Cymru: Youngest ever life peer to take her seat in Lords

  • Baroness Smith being introduced in the House of Lords.

The youngest ever life peer is to be introduced to the House of Lords.

At the age of 28, Plaid Cymru’s Carmen Smith will take her seat as Baroness Smith of Llanfaes

She will be introduced to the Lords by former Plaid leader Lord Wigley of Caernarfon and former Green Party leader Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle. She will take the oath in Welsh.

Ms Smith succeeds as the youngest ever life peer Baroness Owen of Alderley Edge, who was made a life peer in July 2023 at the age of 30.

Llanfaes is a small village in Ynys Môn where she grew up and she chose the title to “shine a light on the experiences of people in areas like mine”.

As a party, Plaid Cymru is opposed to the House of Lords. Credit: PA Images

Ahead of her introduction to the House of Lords, Ms Smith said: “As I am introduced to the House of Lords as its youngest member today, I will be acutely aware of the unique responsibility I hold to be a voice for my generation.

“We came of age amidst the global recession and austerity, seeing the decimation of youth services and the growing mental health crisis.

“Against the backdrop of looming climate catastrophe, we face stark wealth disparities, soaring debts, unaffordable housing, and precarious employment. We are incensed by the injustices suffered by so many in our society.

“As a young carer to my late father, I experienced the kind of struggles that so many people face every day – the same barriers, the same prejudices.

“As someone who grew up in a rural, underprivileged area, I experienced the lack of connectedness, lack of infrastructure, that so many of our communities still face.

“I chose ‘Llanfaes’ as my title as I wanted to send a message. I wanted to shine a light on the experiences of people in areas like mine.

“My experiences are far from unique, but are a world away from the reality lived by most in Westminster.

“Across Wales, young voices are drowned out by the failures of the UK’s political and economic structures. They deserve to be heard.

“In a House of Lords where not many members will look like me, I know that I will have to shout loudly. I’m ready for that.”

Ms Smith studied law at Bangor University for one year before leaving her studies to campaign to become NUS Wales deputy president in 2016.

At 25, she became chief of staff to the Plaid Senedd group and has campaigned on issues such as widening access into education, the right to self-determination, and tackling poverty.

Lord Wigley, Plaid’s honorary president, said he planned to retire from the House of Lords at the next general election as he turns 81 in April.

“It is true that I have indicated in the past that I did not foresee myself continuing in the Lords beyond the age of 80,” he said.

“However, with Carmen’s very welcome appointment, I resolved to stay a little longer to help her settle into the work.

“I very much hope that during this period, Plaid Cymru’s other nominee, Rt Hon Elfyn Llwyd, former parliamentary leader, will be appointed to the Lords – and that this will deliver on the earlier commitment that Plaid Cymru will have three seats in the second chamber, to work for Wales to the best of our endeavours.

“In the meantime, I look forward to working alongside Carmen Smith and wish her every success.”

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