Peers label downgrading of Lords leader an 'outrage'

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The Prime Minister's decision not to make the new leader of the House of Lords a full Cabinet member is a "constitutional outrage", peers have said.

Mr Cameron's decision came under fire from all sides of the House during a bad tempered debate, with Labour's leader of the house Baroness Royall of Blaisdon saying it showed "contempt" for the House.

Baroness Stowell replaced Lord Hill of Oareford, who is Mr Cameron's nominee to be a European Commissioner.

Unlike Lord Hill, Lady Stowell will have the right to attend Cabinet rather than being a full member of it.

Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, asking an urgent question in the Lords on 16 July, said it was "vital" the leader was a full member.

He told peers that this was the first time in the "history of this House and of Cabinet government" that there is no Cabinet minister from the House of Lords

"What sort of signal does that send to the Civil Service and others about the authority of this place in its important duty in revising legislation?" he asked, to cheers from across the House.

Labour former attorney general Baroness Scotland of Asthal said Mr Cameron's decision was a "constitutional outrage".

Following a backlash yesterday over the fact that as a result she would not be paid as much for doing the same job as her predecessor, it emerged her salary would be topped up to Lord Hill's level by the Conservative Party - although Lady Stowell indicated the matter was still under discussion.

Baroness Royall described suggestions that new leader Baroness Stowell of Beeston's salary could be topped up by Conservative Party funds as "improper and unethical".

Baroness Stowell, who responded for the government, told peers she was "absolutely confident" she would still be able to represent the House of Lords in the Cabinet.

Lady Stowell said she would sit around the same Cabinet table and "participate in discussions as fully as my predecessor and I will do so with great privilege".

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