Smith's widow enters Parliament

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Indy Politics
Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill, the widow of the late Labour leader John Smith, was appointed yesterday to the party's front bench in the House of Lords.

Her appointment was part of a last minor reshuffle, as Lord Richard, Labour leader in the Lords, readied his team for a constitutional showdown with hereditary peers if Tony Blair wins the election. The former Elizabeth Smith has become a Labour spokeswoman on tourism. Since her husband's death two-and-half-years ago, she has kept a low profile, apparently resisting any move into any official position within the party.

But Lord Ewing, who clashed with the Labour leader over its handling of plans for a Scottish parliament, has left the front bench.

Meanwhile, Lord Strathclyde, the Conservative chief whip in the House of Lords, confirmed that his party would not block the ending of speaking and voting rights for hereditary peers. In a letter to Lord Carter, a senior Labour frontbencher, he confirmed that the Tories would abide by the "Salisbury Convention" - the Lords would not stand in the way of a manifesto pledge of a party which won a general election. But Tory sources made it clear that the progress of the Bill to remove the rights of hereditary peers "would be slow".