The new faces at the House of Lords

Saturday 29 May 2010 00:00 BST

Mr Big Society to be youngest in Lords

Nat Wei, the 33-year-old former business consultant dubbed David Cameron's Mr Big Society, will become the youngest member of the House of Lords in a role spearheading a new culture of volunteering in Britain.

The Oxford graduate, who will become Baron Wei of Shoreditch, will be at the heart of the Government's drive to create a National Citizen Service for 16-year-olds, with 650,000 volunteering places – one for every GCSE-age teenager – available within eight years.

Wei was a member of the founding team at Teach First, an organisation which places top graduates in schools in disadvantaged areas. He has likened the task of turning the Big Society election slogan into a reality to the creation of the NHS.

The list of working peers includes a range of recruits from the ranks of public sector quangos and institutions. Sir Ken Macdonald QC, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, becomes a Liberal Democrat peer, and Rita Donaghy, the former chairman of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), joins the Labour benches.

Two new peers are allied with the Local Government Association: Sir Jeremy Beecham, its first chairman, is joining the Labour benches and its current head, Dame Margaret Eaton, is appointed by the Tories.

Both Dr Dianne Hayter, chairman of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, and Maeve Sherlock, former chief executive of the Refugee Council, become Labour peers.

Cahal Milmo

Close allies now reap rewards of loyal service

Gordon Brown has taken the chance to hand some of his closest allies a parting gift by awarding them peerages. Sue Nye only entered the national consciousness at the election as the "Sue" blamed for making the former Prime Minister meet Gillian Duffy – an encounter which led to the infamous "bigotgate" fiasco. But Ms Nye has been rewarded with a peerage for serving as Mr Brown's loyal and trusted gatekeeper since 1992.

Wilf Stevenson, an old friend from their Edinburgh University days, is also heading to the Lords. His close relationship with Mr Brown caused problems during his tenure at the Smith Institute think tank, which held regular seminars inside No 11 while Mr Brown was Chancellor. He later became the former Prime Minster's special adviser on constitutional reform.

Des Browne had been a Brown supporter since his election in 1997. As Defence Secretary, he was a staunch supporter of a replacement for the Trident nuclear programme. However, he also ran into controversy in 2007 for allowing a British Navy crew captured by Iran to sell their stories.

John McFall is another former Scottish MP who was a cheerleader for Brown during the Blair years. His strong leadership of the Treasury Select Committee during the banking crisis made him an important figure in his own right. Angela Smith, who lost her seat at the election, took over as Brown's bag carrier, officially known as a private parliamentary secretary, in 2007, before bagging her own ministerial job when Brown handed her a Cabinet Office role last year.

Michael Savage

Mrs Prescott will be delighted – but the Tories won't

"Flunkery" is a word that deserves to be in the dictionary. It was used, for the first and last time, in a reply John Prescott gave when asked whether he had set his eyes on a place in the House of Lords.

Melding "flunky" and "flummery", he told The Scotsman: "I'm against too much flunkery and titles." But yesterday it was confirmed that the former Deputy Prime Minister is to spend the rest of his life amid flunkery, when his name appeared in the Dissolution Honours list. The reason he has agreed to become Lord Prescott is an open secret. After what his wife, Pauline, has put up with during his 40 years as an MP, she feels she deserves to be Lady Prescott. Mr Prescott admitted "Pauline wants me to".

He will be joined on the red benches by four former Labour cabinet ministers – John Reid, Hilary Armstrong and Paul Boateng. Ex-Cabinet ministers Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt were left out after being caught in a sting by a journalist posing as a lobbyist wanting to hire their services. An announcement that is bound to annoy the Conservatives is that Quentin Davies, a Tory MP who defected to Labour, will also be a peer. He will join two other former Tory MPs, Lord Temple-Morris and Lord Howarth of Newport, who have been awarded peerages after switching horses.

Two Labour Scottish MPs, John McFall and Tommy McAvoy, are on the list. So are two former Tory Cabinet ministers, Michael Howard and John Gummer. Four other Tory ex-MPs, Tim Boswell, Angela Browning, John Maples and Sir Michael Spicer, have been made peers.

Andy McSmith

Sir Ian Blair: forced to quit, now a life peer

Despite being the first Metropolitan Police Commissioner in history to be forced to stand down, Sir Ian Blair yesterday followed in the footsteps of many of his predecessors when he was granted a life peerage.

The former head of Scotland Yard, who was labelled "Labour's favourite cop" during his tenure, was nominated by the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a "distinguished public servant".

Sir Ian, who will now become Lord Blair, follows former commissioners John Stevens, Paul Condon and Peter Imbert in being made a life peer. The decision may be controversial, given that he was forced to quit his post by Boris Johnson, then the new London Mayor.

While in charge of the Met, Sir Ian presided over the 7 July 2005 Tube bombings, but he was also in charge two weeks later when his force shot dead the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, after mistaking him for a terrorist.

Also awarded a peerage, by the Conservative Party, was Helen Newlove, whose husband Garry was beaten to death by drunken teenagers after he remonstrated with them on his doorstep in Warrington in 2007.

Since then, Mrs Newlove has campaigned against underage drinking and anti-social behaviour. The Prime Minister has described her as a "remarkable" woman.

Floella Benjamin, a television presenter and children's issues campaigner, has been made a Liberal Democrat peer.

Mark Hughes

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