Letter: Blair's peers

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The Independent Culture
Sir: You report (19 July) Labour claims that plans for an independent commission to make and control appointments of peers have been "scuppered" because of attacks on the Lords Bill in the Lords. This ludicrous claim shows that for Downing Street the silly season has begun early.

The facts are straightforward. Labour promised an independent commission more than two years go. They have since done nothing, while sending some 80 "new Labour" peers to the Lords.

All parties agree a commission is needed. A cross-party alliance of peers put an amendment into the Lords Bill to set up a statutory appointments watchdog on the lines of Labour's own plans. Labour don't need to do anything. They could simply accept the amendment. The independent commission Labour said they wanted would be in place at the time they have, until now, claimed they wanted it.

Such a commission is essential in the kind of Quango House Labour are creating. There can only be one reason for fudging the issue and trying on bogus excuses for more delay: Tony Blair, who has already created more peers more quickly than any prime minister ever, and twice as many as in the notorious Lloyd George era, wants a free hand to put yet more unelected cronies into the House.

Only then, when he has the docile Lords he secretly wants, will he come forward with an Appointments Commission and declare himself free from sin. He is a latter-day St Augustine: "Make me chaste, my Lords, but not yet."


Leader of the Opposition

House of Lords

London SW1