UK Politics

Cameron announces 26 new Tory peers in dissolution honours

House of Lords benches Image copyright PA

David Cameron is facing accusations of "cronyism" after handing 26 peerages to former Tory ministers and aides.

The list includes ex-Tory leader William Hague and Mr Cameron's Downing Street "gatekeeper" Kate Fall.

The Lib Dems get 11 peers, with eight for Labour, making a total of 45 new Lords members, swelling the total size of the Upper House to 826.

The SNP branded it "a sorry list of rejected politicians, cronies and hangers-on with big chequebooks".

Downing Street said it was normal practice for prime ministers to recognise their aides in dissolution honours lists.

Senior Labour figures to be elevated include former ministers David Blunkett, Alistair Darling and Tessa Jowell.

Media captionSir Menzies Campbell said he intends to "argue the case for reform in the House of Lords itself"

Moat cleaning

Lingerie entrepreneur Michelle Mone, who was recently appointed by the government to carry out a review into how best to encourage start-ups in areas of high unemployment, is to become a Conservative peer.

BBC Political Correspondent Chris Mason said Mr Cameron's decision to award a peerage to Douglas Hogg, who was at the centre of an expenses row over a £2,200 bill for cleaning his moat, is already fuelling tabloid fury.

The elevation of more Lib Dems than their entire cohort of MPs will raise an eyebrow or two as well, added our correspondent.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Entrepreneur Michelle Mone is to be ennobled

Seven Lib Dems who lost their seats or stood down at the general election have been elevated to the Lords, including former leader Sir Menzies Campbell, Sir Alan Beith and Lynne Featherstone.

Vince Cable and Danny Alexander, who are thought to have turned down the chance to enter the Lords, have been knighted.

There is also concern about the number of people now entitled to sit in the House of Lords - it is now the world's second largest legislative body after China's National People's Congress.

Labour MP Lucy Powell said: "David Cameron's promise to cut the cost of politics lies in tatters.

"At the election the Tories said they would make the House of Lords smaller, but they have done the opposite, leaving taxpayers with a multimillion-pound bill for David Cameron's new peers."

Who is in the House of Lords?

  • In 2014/15 the average daily attendance was 483 peers
  • Members who certify that they have carried out "appropriate Parliamentary work" in Westminster are entitled to claim a tax-free daily allowance of £300
  • They can choose to claim a lower rate of £150 for work away from Westminster or official visits
  • According to the latest House of Lords Annual Report, net operating costs for the chamber totalled £94.4m for 2014-15
  • Of this, £20.7m was spent on members' allowances and expenses

Meg Russell, of the constitution unit at University College London, said Mr Cameron had now appointed more peers than Margaret Thatcher did in 11 years as prime minister.

"They can't have office space, they can't get into the canteen. It's inefficient as well as being expensive," she told BBC News.

Mr Cameron has said there is "no point" reviving coalition efforts to reform the Upper House, which stalled acrimoniously following a Tory backbench rebellion.

He is seeking to boost his party's representation in the Lords, where he does not have a majority, to make it easier to get legislation through.

Downing Street said Mr Cameron was happy for Conservatives to take part in all-party talks looking at what more can be done to encourage peers to retire and also at limiting the amount of time peers are appointed to serve.

The prime minister has showered his backroom staff with honours, including OBEs and MBEs. Downing Street gardener Paul Schooling and catering assistants Alison Depass and Marjorie Wallace, were awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for "public service".

'Political placemen'

UKIP and the Greens both called for the House of Lords to be scrapped and replaced by an elected body.

Despite getting nearly four million votes at the general election, UKIP did not gain an extra peer to add to the three it already has.

The party's only MP in the Commons, Douglas Carswell, said the Upper House was "illegitimate" and full of "political placemen" who drew allowances "without doing a stroke of work".

"I think we need far-reaching reform," he told BBC News.

"Some of them even have criminal records and they can keep on drawing down £300 a day. My constituents would be outraged if they could see some of the things that go on in Westminster."

The Green Party's only member of the House of Lords, Baroness Jones, said: "It is disappointing, but sadly unsurprising, that this list is populated by the establishment parties who already dominate the Upper House, while the 1.1 million people who voted Green at the general election remain roundly ignored."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Former Foreign Secretary William Hague is on his way to the Lords

Commenting on his elevation to the Lords, former home secretary David Blunkett said he was "very pleased indeed to be offered the opportunity of continuing to make a contribution to public policy".

He added: "My mother would have felt this to be the equivalent of riding in a luxury limousine whereas today, it is more like standing room only on the top of an extremely busy double decker bus!

"Optimistically, it may well be possible to block or delay the worst elements of the Conservative programme where this was not explicitly detailed in their manifesto and therefore legitimised in the general election."

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