Boris Johnson is facing a cronyism row after appointing a Tory donor as a life peer.
The prime minister ignored objections from the House of Lords Appointments Committee to elevate the Tory former treasurer Peter Cruddas to the upper house.
Meanwhile Lord Speaker Lord Fowler also voiced concerns about the number of peers Johnson has appointed.
Mr Johnson has added 16 to his list of appointments bringing the total for the year up to 52 new peers over two lists. This list will bring the total in the House of Lords to over 830 – almost 200 more than the House of Commons.
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On the appointment of Cruddas, a statement on the gov.uk website said:
The House of Lords Appointments Commission was invited by the Prime Minister to undertake vetting of all party political and cross-bench nominations. The commission is an independent non-statutory body. It provides advice but appointments are a matter for the Prime Minister.
The commission has completed its vetting in respect of all nominees. The commission advised the Prime Minister that it could not support one nominee – Peter Cruddas. The Prime Minister has considered the commission’s advice and wider factors and concluded that, exceptionally, the nomination should proceed.
Johnson also appointed QC David Wolfson as a life peer and junior justice minister. Wolfson has publicly backed the prime minister’s stance on controversial legislation.
The Lord Speaker said he would not comment on those appointed. But he added:
It may also now be the time to review the role and the powers of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
Back in June 2020, when the number of life peers nominated stood at 30, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society Darren Hughes said:
At 800 members, the unelected House of Lords is already the most bloated chamber in the developed world. However, the real problem is not just its size but the fact that governments find that – for all the talk of ‘ending cronyism’ – the urge to appoint party donors and loyalists is irresistible… Since the election, we’ve already seen MPs stand down or lose their seats and get a life pass to vote on our laws. It is no wonder the public see the unelected Lords as a private members’ club on the river Thames.
Now the number of nominees has almost doubled.
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