Rewards for Tory supporters are an insult says Labour

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The New Year Honours were attacked as "shabby" last night as it emerged that a number of those ennobled today have connections with the Conservative Party. Labour's campaign spokesman Brian Wilson said this year's list was "stuffed with rewards for Tory funders and favourites".

Of 30 knights on the Prime Minister's list, three have headed companies which gave money to the Tory Party. Three are Conservative MPs and at least three more have supported the Tories in other ways. One, Bob Horton, is chairman of the recently privatised Railtrack.

Also among the new knights is Michael Pickard, chairman of the London Docklands Development Corporation. He was also chief executive of Sears Plc when it made a donation of pounds 15,000 to the Conservative Party. Other Conservative supporters who have been honoured include the new life peer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the entertainer Cilla Black, CBE, and rower Stephen Redgrave, OBE.

Last night Mr Wilson said the list read like a "resignation honours" of people whose services to the Conservatives had not previously been recognised. "The inclusion of these shabby political honours are an insult to the many people included in the list who have given genuinely valuable service to the country," he said.

The two other new knights whose former companies gave money to the Conservatives are Graeme Odgers, now chairman of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, and David Rowland, now chairman of Lloyd's. Mr Odgers was chief executive of Alfred McAlpine Plc in 1990-93, during which time it gave pounds 20,000 to the party. When Mr Rowland was chairman of the Sedgwick group between 1989 and 1992, it gave a donation of pounds 20,000.

According to a parliamentary answer given to Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham, 133 Conservative MPs have been knighted since 1979. In the same period the honour has been given to only four Labour MPs. Last night a Conservative Party spokeswoman said Labour had no right to condemn the Government when it had just appointed the architect Sir Richard Rogers, a party supporter, as a life peer. All those named by Labour had been given their honours for other services to public life, she added.

"Labour spend all their time giving honours for favours to the Labour Party, and they plan to do a lot more as part of their proposal to replace hereditary peers by making whole batches of life peers - all those nice cronies of Tony Blair. I don't think they are in a position to start going on about political honours," she said.