Retiring Blairite MPs in line for peerages

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair is preparing to send a group of loyal senior Labour MPs to bolster the Government's ranks in the House of Lords in a dissolution honours list likely to be compared to Harold Wilson's "Lavender List".

Tony Blair is preparing to send a group of loyal senior Labour MPs to bolster the Government's ranks in the House of Lords in a dissolution honours list likely to be compared to Harold Wilson's "Lavender List".

The former cabinet ministers Jack Cunningham, Ann Taylor and Chris Smith are expected to head the list of retiring Labour MPs given seats. Other loyal Labour MPs expected to be nominated by Mr Blair for a peerage after he calls the election include stalwarts such as Martin O'Neill and George Foulkes, a former minister.

Labour troublemakers who have rebelled against the Government over Iraq and are retiring have been excluded. They include Alice Mahon, Brian Sedgemore and Tam Dalyell, the father of the House.

The list will revive the charge that the Prime Minister is packing the Lords with "Tony's cronies", although Mr Smith rebelled against the Government this week on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill.

The first draft of Wilson's resignation honours list became known as the Lavender List because it was written by the prime minister's political secretary, Marcia Williams, on lavender notepaper.

She became a peer as Lady Falkender, along with some of his other close personal friends, including Lord Kagan, who was sent to jail for fraud, and Sir Eric Miller, who killed himself while being investigated. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by anyone on Mr Blair's list.

Mr Cunningham, who is retiring from his seat at Copeland, in the Lake District, is tipped to take over as Leader of the Lords from Baroness Amos, although he is said to be reluctant because of other commitments.

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