Cabinet Reshuffle: Major's appointment in House of Lords underlines irritation

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JOHN MAJOR yesterday appointed for the first time a parliamentary private secretary in the House of Lords as part of a shake-up of the Government's operation in the Upper House.

Lord McColl is the Prime Minister's second PPS. Mr Major appointed the little- known John Ward, 69, Tory MP for Poole, as his PPS in the Commons in the main reshuffle.

The appointment of a PPS to act as his 'eyes and ears' among the Tory peers underlines the Prime Minister's irritation at the number of Government defeats in the Lords. 'The whips in the Lords have gone like a puff of smoke,' said one Government source.

Lord McColl, 61, a professor and director of surgery at Guy's hospital, was influential in the creation of self-governing hospitals.

Mr Major also appointed Lord Inglewood as a whip, completing the clear-out which saw Lord Wakeham replaced as Leader of the Lords by Viscount Cranborne, and Viscount Ullswater replaced as Chief Whip by Lord Strathclyde.

Tory MPs were still puzzled by the appointment of Mr Ward to the important role of Mr Major's 'eyes and ears' in the Commons. Even long-serving backbenchers said: 'John who?' at hearing his name.

Mr Major was widely seen to have needed a senior Tory figure to help reassert his authority and end the continued threats to his leadership. Mr Ward, a structural engineer, replaces Sir Graham Bright.