Television mogul is youngest-ever life peer

TONY BLAIR creates Britain's youngest ever life peer today, among 18 new Labour members of the House of Lords.

Waheed Alli, the 33 year-old managing director of a television company, is believed to be worth around pounds 10m. He is friendly with Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Mo Mowlam, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Peter Mandelson, the Minister Without Portfolio. Mr Smith received a researcher and the loan of computer equipment from Mr Alli's Planet 24 company, which makes Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, when he was Shadow Health Secretary.

Among the other well-known new Labour peers are Melvyn Bragg, the broadcaster; Chris Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods; and Tom Sawyer, the general secretary of the party, who has announced he will step down later this year.

Mr Bragg said he would speak about arts, broadcasting and Cumbria, but urged people to keep calling him "Melvyn". Tom Sawyer said he was looking forward to supporting the Labour Party in the second chamber.

Two Labour MEPs, Christine Crawley and John Tomlinson, also received peerages.

Norman Lamont, John Major's chancellor between 1990 and 1993, finally received his seat as a Conservative peer after being rejected for the honour last year by his former boss. Current Conservative leader William Hague, who was Mr Lamont's Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Treasury, looked more kindly on him. Mr Lamont, who described Mr Major's government as "in office but not in power" when he was forced to resign, is also seeking a seat in the European Parliament.

"The Lords is going to be a very interesting place .I shall continue to fight the single currency," he said.

Also among the Conservatives' five new peers are Sir Tim Bell, known as Margaret Thatcher's favourite PR man, and Peta Buscombe, vice-chairman of the party and a South Oxfordshire district councillor. Politics, page 9