Ranbir Singh Suri is just the second turbaned Sikh to enter the House of Lords. The businessman was introduced to the Lords last year (supported by Lord Popat and Lord Leigh of Hurley). But it was not without a measure of political controversy (although no blame was put at the feet of Lord Suri).
Lord Suri, a Conservative Peer, gave his maiden speech on January 15, which he used to praise the House of Lords in its efforts to increase diversity: “Little did I know back in 1974 when I emigrated from Kenya to the UK that I would be bestowed with this great honour to work alongside your Lordships to continue contributing towards building a cohesive multicultural society in this country. I am humbled to join this House and family, which strives to represent the diversity of the population in this great nation. I am the second turbaned Sikh who has been elevated to the upper House. This great British institution has taken a praiseworthy step by bringing into its fold people of different faiths,” he said.
Suri’s maiden speech was delivered during a debate on mental health care provision – a topic close to his heart. An ethos that roots charity and giving back to the community lead him to work closely in this area: “Over the years I have championed community work and have held posts including justice of the peace, general commissioner of income tax, serving on the Middlesex Probation Committee and the Home Office Advisory Council on Race Relations, being a member of the board of visitors of HM Prison Pentonville and mentor to the Prince’s Trust youth business trust.”
The first turbaned Sikh elevated to the House of Lords was Lord Singh in 2011 – who sits as an independent – and a voice many will recognise from Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’.