Labour names working peers

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The Independent Online
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ALF DUBS, the former MP for Battersea, Derek Gladwin, a long-standing backroom fixer at the Labour Party conference, and Josie Farrington, chairwoman of the Association of County Councils, are to become Labour working peers, Downing Street will announce today.

The new peers will take their seats amid calls by Tony Blair, the new Labour leader, to replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber, and after the Government whips' office in the Lords was the subject of a large-scale clear-out following a string of Government defeats this year.

The Labour peers are expected to be joined by two Liberal Democrat appointments and four new Conservative life peers.

Although the three peers are the first to be gazetted under Mr Blair's leadership, they were not selected by him. It is understood the names were put forward by Margaret Beckett when acting leader. The three are seen as representing established Labour policy rather than Mr Blair's aggressive modernising.

Mr Dubs, 61, was MP for Battersea between 1983 and 1987, is a home affairs and race relations specialist, and is director of the Refugee Council. Born in Prague, he was a Labour home affairs front bench spokesman before losing his seat to the population shifts which saw Wandsworth become a Conservative borough in the 1980s.

Derek Gladwin, 64, a regional organiser with the GMB general union until 1990, has been a member of the Post Office Board but is best known as a hard-edged but genial 'Mr Fixit' for the Labour Party hierarchy at party conferences. There he chaired the pivotal conference arrangements committee for 16 years, to 1990.

Josie Farrington, 54, became chair of the Association of County Councils last month, having been leader of the Labour group and a Lancashire county councillor for Preston since 1977. She fought the Ribble Valley by-election for Labour in 1991. She is pro-European, voted UK European Woman of the Year this year, with a long interest in education which included chairing the Lancashire education committee for 10 years.

The three represent Labour's mainstream, and will be in place to see hereditary peers stripped of their voting rights if Labour wins the next election.