Labour Party's property elite replacing land-owning gentry

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Indy Politics

The traditional land-owning gentry in the House of Lords may be on the way out. But the new Register of Lords interests shows they are swiftly being replaced by a new Labour property-owning elite.

Tony Blair's closest allies in Government, forced for the first time to reveal the true extent of their directorships and property interests, have substantial landholdings.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the minister for Housing, has interests in six properties. He has "homes in London and Nottinghamshire", and owns two flats in London with his wife. The Prime Minister's old flatmate also jointly owns a house inhabited by his father. His wife, a barrister, lets "a small cottage" in Flintham, Nottinghamshire. The peer once suggested that prefabricated houses be built for public-sector workers.

Lord Williams of Mostyn, Labour leader in the Lords, has 10 acres in west Wales. His predecessor, Baroness Jay of Paddington, lists "a second holiday home" in Co Cork, which she lets for up to two months a year. Mr Blair's favourite "blue skies thinker", Lord Birt, says he is an adviser to the management consultancy firm McKinsey and is also an unpaid "strategy adviser to the Prime Minister".

Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare, who is in prison, has retained his shareholding in the new and used-car company One Stop Car Shop, and a residential property investment company in Majorca. He owns "rented urban property" in London, Tyne & Wear, Telford and Workington.

The Labour peer Lord Lipsey takes the new rules on registering the financial interests of a relative or friend literally and says he is a friend of Gavyn Davies, the millionaire Labour-supporting chairman of the BBC.

Since Betty Boothroyd retired as Speaker, she has been a "guest lecturer" with Silversea cruises. In March, she sailed for free in return for talks to passengers.

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