Boris Johnson has been accused of “the worst kind of cronyism” after he handed places in the upper chamber to his brother Jo Johnson, Brexiteers and other Tory loyalists. Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, said Mr Johnson was encouraging “passenger” peers who would not participate in the House’s activities. He said the Prime Minister had also failed to tackle the size of the Lords, which will now swell to more than 800 members — 200 more than the House of Commons.
The former Conservative Cabinet Minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the public would be “unimpressed” with the move.
He said: “I think most of us in the House of Lords are unimpressed with it and it is not necessary – we don’t need a House of Lords of 830.
“I mean, it is ridiculous because it is far too many for the duties… we have very important duties to carry out in terms of the governance of this country but we don’t need 830 people to do it – that’s the plain fact and everyone knows that is a fact.
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“What you are doing is encouraging some in the House of Lords who are quite frankly passengers and don’t make much effort in any event.”
According to reports, one in nine peers have not spoken, held a Government post, or participated in a committee, while 46 have never recorded a vote.
The list of peerages announced on Friday also included Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian proprietor of the London Evening Standard and son of a former KGB agent, and Ruth Davidson, former head of the Scottish Conservative party.
Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox, former deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Nigel Dodds and Leave-supporting Labour MPs Kate Hoey, Frank Field and Gisela Stuart were also appointed to the red benches on Friday.
In 2017, the House of Lords voted to reduce the number of peers to 600.
However, Lord Fowler said the new additions would act as “disincentive” for senior peers to retire because their exit would make no difference to the numbers in the house.
The Lord Speaker did praise the inclusion of Mr Clarke, who stood down at the last election.
He said: “There is a public servant who has done immense good for this country and is being recognised and actually if you want someone who will go on taking an active part in politics and in the House of Lords, I think Ken Clarke is the ideal example.”
Responding, a government spokeswoman said: “As has been the case under successive administrations, distinguished individuals are periodically appointed as peers to enable the House of Lords to fulfil its role as a revising and scrutinising chamber while respecting the primacy of the Commons.”