22:53 GMT03 August 2020
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    A larger-than-expected number of lifetime peerages have been handed out by 10 Downing Street, including to Brexit allies and family members of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

    The Lord Speaker accused the British Prime Minister of "cronyism" on Saturday and asked Boris Johnson to cease handing out “mass” peerages while describing the expansion of the upper chamber as “ridiculous” following 36 new additions to the House of Lords.

    “I do think the Prime Minister has got to stop these kinds of mass appointments because I think the public are unimpressed with it, I think most of us in the House of Lords are unimpressed with it and it is not necessary – we don’t need a House of Lords of 830", Conservative cabinet minister Lord Fowler said to the BBC's Radio 4.
    “I mean, it is ridiculous because it is far too many for the duties… we have very important duties to carry out in terms of the governance of this country but we don’t need 830 people to do it – that’s the plain fact and everyone knows that is a fact".

    Lord Fowler also accused the PM of nepotism after nominating his brother Jo Johnson, several prominent Conservative figures, opposition defectors, and his chief strategic adviser for peerages, a well as promoting a number of Brexit supporters to the Lords when Downing Street unveiled its nominations on Friday.

    The Lord Speaker said that Mr Johnson was encouraging “passenger” peers by failing to deal with the increased size of the Lord's, which will have 200 members more than the elected Commons chamber following the new appointments.

     Jo Johnson, brother of Prime Minister Boris, is seen outside Downing Street in London
    © REUTERS / Hannah Mckay
    Jo Johnson, brother of Prime Minister Boris, is seen outside Downing Street in London

    He predicted that the appointments would act as a “disincentive” for senior peers to retire as their exit would make “no difference” to the chamber's overall headcount.

    Lord Fowler also expressed regret over the shift away from Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, who pledged to use “restraint” when making appointments to the upper chamber.

    He did, however, give support to the inclusion of former Conservative Chancellor Ken Clarke, who stepped down after 50 years in the Commons.

    Johnson's move follows a report by Lord Burns in 2017 which called for the number of peers to be reduced to 600.

    According to the Daily Mail, 88 peers have never even spoken in the Lords, nor held a government position, nor participated in a committee, while 46 of them have never even voted.

    Who's Up?

    Aside from placing his own brother in the House of Lords, the PM also nominated cricketer Sir Ian Botham, his personal friend and owner of the Independent and Evening Standard - Evgeny Lebedev - and former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

    ​He also gave a knighthood to Philip May, the husband of former PM Theresa May.

    ​Also included in the parliament's second chamber are around a dozen MPs who left the Commons at the 2019 election, including staunch Brexiteers including Frank Field and Kate Hoey. He also included a number of Labour defectors who endorsed a Conservative vote at the last election, namely: Ian Austin and John Woodcock.

    All of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's peerage nominations were vetoed.


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