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Speculation at Westminster about creation of new peers

Michael Crick | 18:22 UK time, Monday, 25 October 2010

There's much speculation at Westminster about the dozens of new lords that are about to be created. Whilst the Coalition is busily cutting the number of MPs from 650 down to 600, we are about to get another batch of about 55 new peers.

A normally astute and well-informed Lib Dem observer reckons the following people are in line to be among the expected 15 new Liberal Democrat peers:

* Brian Paddick (2008 London Mayoral candidate and former senior Metropolitan Police officer)
* Sal Brinton (Parliamentary candidate in Watford in 2005 and 2010)
* Dee Doocey (member of the London Assembly since 2004 but standing down in 2012)
* Judith Jolly (West Country party stalwart)
* Susan Kramer (ex-MP for Richmond Park)
* Jonathan Marks (legal expert)
* Monroe Palmer (chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel)
* Julie Smith (Cambridge academic and chair of Liberal International British Group)
* Ben Stoneham (No.2 at Cowley Street, Clegg's operations director before the election)
* Neil Sherlock (speech writer to successive Lib Dem leaders - Kennedy, Campbell and Clegg, also a big donor to Clegg's office, and husband of recently ennobled Kate Parminter)
* Ian Wright (big donor to Clegg's office).

The latter two - Sherlock and Wright - have been donors to Clegg's office so their inclusion could prove to be controversial.

In the Coalition Agreement it was agreed to adjust representation in the Lords to reflect the distribution of votes at the last election. When I did the sums and observed on Newsnight that this would entail the creation of around 200 new peers, ministers suggested I was talking rubbish.

This coming batch, however, will bring the number of new peers since May to around 120.

So much, some will say, for cutting the cost of democracy. Indeed, so much for democracy, they might well add.

But I am told that these new peers won't last long in the upper house. The Lib Dems need so many new peers, I am assured, to ensure that the Lords doesn't block its own reform.

Of course.

I am also told that another name on the Liberal Democrat list is Qurban Hussain, who stood for Luton South at the election, a campaign we covered on Newsnight.

My previous list had no black or ethnic minority candidates, and so Hussain's elevation would remedy that.

Hussain was the nearest any Lib Dem ethnic minority candidate came in 2010 to getting elected. But his elevation to the Lords may make it even harder for the Lib Dems to ensure they get any ethnic minority MPs next time round.

As I have often reported here, this remains a big embarrassment for the party.


  • Comment number 1.

    Could be about the abolition of the Lords or could it be to make sure that several measures get through the Lords. Perhaps the present crop of LibDem Lords are not reliable enough.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    A fine collection of Lib Dem has-beens and never-weres. From the look of this Clegg is clearly anxious to marginalise what's left of dissent within his party - and there are some very strange names there. Boilerbill is probably right that most of the existing Lords are not playing ball with the coalition. Not sure what being involved with the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel does to justify ermine...

  • Comment number 4.

    If Michael is correct about these peers being appointed in order to facilitate legislation for an elected upper chamber, Clegg may be in for a disappointment. The funny thing about peers is that once they get there, they start to believe that they have a unique and precious contribution to make, that the civilised debates they hold would be lost if peers had to grubby their hands with standing in an election...
    I hope I am wrong about this but I have been surprised, even by peers I have a lot of respect for who have said this. Does enoblement have a chemistry all of its own? Does privilege beget self-importance? Would be interested in hearing Michael's view on that.

  • Comment number 5.

    It is curious how many peers are being created. If the coalition says it needs them for balance then Labour must have created a large number. How many did Labour create Michael?

  • Comment number 6.

    suppose karzai just began appointing people to an 'upper house'? what western liberal 'outrage' there would be? Why are we less than afghans or iraqis in democratic rights? reminds one of North Korea.

  • Comment number 7.


    I don't have the exact figures for creations but it took ten years of appointments AND removal of all but 92 of the hereditary peers for Labour to become the largest Party in the Lords. (note - NOT the majority just the largest)

    Even during that time Conservative and Lib Dem Peers were appointed so it was not all Labour appointments

  • Comment number 8.

    Here we go again jobs for the boys (and) girls. This is a a time of austerity and yet more people will join the Westminster gravy train. More subsidised food and drink at my expense, more expenses at my expense.

    Its about time lords were fully elected (if we have to have a second house); at least that way I have some say as to can join the gravy train. I am funding this fiasco along with millions of other tax payers who have already been shafted sufficiently by politicians of all persuasions.


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