Tories In Turmoil: Lords hallways become a catwalk to survival

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The Independent Online
THE HISTORIC Lords compromise worked out between Tony Blair, Lord Cranborne and the Crossbenchers means that each party in the Upper House will decide which hereditary peers are to survive.

Under the formula devised behind closed doors over the past few weeks, 91 peers will be retained as part of a first stage of reform ahead of their eventual abolition. Each party will be able to select survivors according to its strength in the Lords, leaving the Tories with 42, Labour two, Liberal Democrats three and Crossbenchers 28.

As it will be up to the peers themselves to make the selection it is likely that the most popular and colourful characters will win the day.

The next few weeks will see the thickly carpeted hallways of the Lords turned into a catwalk for those titled hopefuls desperate to hold on to their seats.

Four Favoured to Survive

EARL OF CARNARVON

A highly popular and able crossbencher, the seventh Earl of Carnarvon was a leading architect of the deal on House of Lords reform that split the Tories. Educated at Eton and a former lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards, Henry Herbert is described by colleagues as "a truly solid chap". Hisfriendship with the Queen led him to become her racing manager in 1969.

Vital statistic: Thoroughbred Breeders Association 1964-66.

VISCOUNT CRANBORNE

Robert Cecil's family motto, Late But In Earnest, could apply to his fateful 11th-hour decision to back the Government's peace deal on House of Lords reform.

The heir to the Marquessate of Salisbury is no dry Parliamentarian. As an MP in the 1980s, he got so bored that he sneaked off to briefly join the mujahedin in Afghanistan.

Vital statistics: Fast-lane driver, fined pounds 100 for speeding in 1983

LORD AVEBURY

Quirky could easily be one of the middle names of Eric Reginald Lubbock, the 4th Baron of Avebury and 7th Baronet of Lammas.

The Liberal Democrat peer, 70, is warmly regarded by his colleagues for his commitment to human rights issues, yet no amount of gravitas can shake off his reputation as a maverick.

Vital statistic: One of few peers to have worked for Rolls-Royce rather than to have owned one.

LORD MELCHETT

Peter Mond, the 4th Baron Melchett, is at 50 one of the youngest peers and a favourite in Labour's

hereditary peer beauty stakes.

He was a bright young minister in James Callaghan's government.

The executive director of Greenpeace UK, he can fairly claim an interest in animals to rival any real Miss England.

Vital statistic: Chairman, working party on pop festivals 1975-76.

Two Who

Won't

LORD LONGFORD

Loathed by the tabloids and loved by Kilroy for his friendship with Myra Hindley, Francis Longford, 93, is likely to be a victim of Labour's mass murder of the hereditaries. Lord Longford has had a remarkable career stretching back to chief assistant to Sir William Beveridge in 1941. He marked his 90th birthday by admitting he was a regular reader of The Sun, which him "the loopy lord".

Vital statistic: First Lord of the Admiralty, May-October 1951.

MARQUESS OF BATH

The 7th Marquess of Bath is one of the most striking contestants in the race to stay on the red benches. Aged 66, he is fond of all things Sixties, from barefoot attire to Jacuzzis and a "kissing couch" in his ancestral home. Is head of Longleat estate and its lions.

Vital statistic: "Tarzan room" houses his children at Longleat. Father embraced fascism and had large collection of Hitlerania, still on display at the home.

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