The World According To... Baroness Chapman

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The Independent Culture
Baroness Chapman, 43, last year became the first person with a congenital disability to be appointed to the House of Lords. Born with a brittle bone condition, she has lived in Leeds all her life and is chair of Leeds United Disabled Organisation

The Lords: in touch or out of time?

In touch. It's a surreal environment, but I've been very surprised by how easy it has been to fit in. Everywhere else I've worked, I've got the job and then started work on being accepted. It's not like that here. Once you're a member of the Lords, you're accepted.

Is honesty always the best policy?

Yes. If I've got something wrong, I put my hand up and say so. I'm a strong believer in telling the truth, although I try not to be too blunt. I'm only 2ft 9in tall, so I've learnt to be tactful.

Should euthanasia be legalised?

Personally, I think it shouldn't. I worry that if it is legalised, vulnerable people will be at risk. Their lives may be ended because of subjective assessments about their quality of life. My parents were told that my life wouldn't be worth living. It certainly has been.

What is the last film that moved you?

Ghost. It gets me every time. But I don't blub in films. I don't tend to cry at all. I'm not the type.

What is more important than football?

Well, I'd like to say nothing, but of course that's not true. However, I've always been a passionate Leeds United supporter. I'm a Leeds girl. I've only missed two home matches in five years, both to illness. I go to as many away games as I can manage.

Should the abortion laws be reviewed?

Possibly. But, at root, I think it's a woman's right to decide, even if I don't agree with her reasons. If I was told my child would be disabled, I wouldn't want to have an abortion. But I can understand why other women would. Social status is tied up with producing perfect children.

How sexist is the Palace of Westminster?

I don't think it is sexist. I haven't been treated any better or worse because I'm female. It's very male-orientated, but then most of its members are male. Obviously, we need more women in the Lords - that goes without saying.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Me. What you see is what you get. I look very different to Jo Public, but I'm quite happy with the way I am. When people meet me, they often expect me to be very different. I get over that by being myself. They get used to me or they walk away.

What makes you laugh?

During my induction to the House of Lords, I was sat in my ceremonial robes, in a wheelchair and my brother said, "Oh, you look like something escaping from Santa's sack." That made me laugh.