Boris Johnson's 36 new peers needed to maintain 'expertise' within House of Lords

Danielle Sheridan
·2-min read
Boris Johnson has been accused of cronyism over his appointments  - Rui Vieira
Boris Johnson has been accused of cronyism over his appointments - Rui Vieira

Boris Johnson's 36 new peers are needed to maintain the "expertise” within the House of Lords, Downing Street has said.  

The list, which included the Prime Minister's brother Jo Johnson, cricketer Sir Ian Botham and newspaper proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, comes despite Mr Johnson having said he believes the size of the Lords needed to be addressed. 

Mr Johnson, a Remainer, quit as an MP last year after citing an “unresolvable tension” between loyalty to his brother the Prime Minister, and the national interest.  Meanwhile just one third of the new peers are women. 

Lord Speaker Lord Fowler accused Mr Johnson of U-turning on a promise made by Theresa May to show restraint in new appointments, with the result that there will be almost 200 more members of the Lords than the House of Commons.

However Downing Street said the new members were needed to ensure the upper chamber had the "appropriate expertise".

Jo Johnson, the Prime Minister's brother, has been made a peer - HENRY NICHOLLS
Jo Johnson, the Prime Minister's brother, has been made a peer - HENRY NICHOLLS

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It remains the case that the size of the House of Lords needs addressing but given retirements and other departures some new members are needed to ensure the Lords has appropriate expertise and it continues to fulfil its role in scrutinising and revising legislation."

The spokesman added that it was a "long-standing convention that individuals can be nominated for an honour or peerage in recognition of their public and political service and that prime ministers can draw up dissolution and resignation lists".

He rejected Lord Fowler's suggestion that some of the new peers would be "passengers" in the chamber, as he added that "all of the individuals were nominated in recognition of their contribution to society and their public and political service". 

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, accused Mr Johnson of “cronyism”. 

"Pressure is mounting for an overhaul of the Lords, after this shocking batch of cronyistic appointments,” Mr Hughes said. 

"Even the Lord Speaker recognises that this situation is untenable and has completely over-ridden even the Lords' modest attempts at self-regulation.

"At over 800 members, this bloated chamber is making a mockery of democracy."

When the names were announced Mr Hughes said the 36 new peers could cost the taxpayer £1.1 million a year if they all submitted regular claims for allowances.

"By appointing a host of ex-MPs, party loyalists and his own brother, the PM is inviting total derision,” he said. “That he can get away with it shows what a private member's club this House is."