Thursday, May 10, 2012

Could this be the real reason behind Tory opposition to Lords reform?

Twenty five years ago, Mrs Thatcher won her third general election and formed her cabinet.
Shall we see what happened to those Cabinet Ministers are now?

Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher (now Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven)

Chancellor of the Exchequer
Nigel Lawson (now Lord Lawson of Blaby)

Chief Secretary to the Treasury
John Major (turned down a peerage in 2001)

Foreign Secretary
Geoffrey Howe (now Lord Howe of Aberavon)

Home Secretary
Douglas Hurd (now Lord Hurd of Westwell)

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
John MacGregor (now Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market)

Defence Secretary
George Younger (initially made Lord Younger of Prestwick, before succeeding as Viscount of Leckie)

Education Secretary
Kenneth Baker (now Lord Baker of Dorking)

Employment Secretary
Norman Fowler (now Lord Fowler of Sutton Coldfield)

Energy Secretary
Cecil Parkinson (now Lord Parkinson of Camforth)

Environment Secretary
Nicholas Ridley (became Lord Ridley of Liddesdale – died 1993)

Health and Social Security Secretary
John Moore (now Lord Moore of Lower Marsh)

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Kenneth Clarke (still an MP and currently Justice Secretary)

Secretary for Northern Ireland
Tom King (now Lord King of Bridgwater)

Secretary for Scotland
Malcolm Rifkind (currently MP for Kensington and Chelsea)

Trade and Industry Secretary
Lord Young (had received his Life Peerage in 1984)

Transport Secretary
Paul Channon (became Lord Channon of Kelvedon – died 2007)

Secretary for Wales
Peter Walker (became Lord Walker of Worcester – died 2010)

Lord Chancellor
Lord Havers (former MP who was made a Life Peer in 1987 – died 1992)

Lord President of the Council
Viscount Whitelaw (former MP who was unusually given a Hereditary peerage in 1983 – died 1999)

Lord Privy Seal
John Wakeham (now Lord Wakeham of Maldon)

By now, you will have got the reason for this article. All but three of the 1987 Cabinet found themselves in the House of Lords. The three exceptions are because they are still active in politics (Clarke, Rifkind) or because of refusal (Major).

To be fair to him, George Younger would have got his hereditary peerage anyway. And of course it is not only Tories who have accepted such honours – Lords Kinnock, Prescott, Steel, Owen and Ashdown are all there too, as well as numerous MPs of all parties.

But opposition to reform of the House of Lords is strongest within the Conservative party. Former Cabinet Ministers such as David Davis, John Redwood and Peter Lilley would doubtless find a seat in the Lords one day as things currently stand.

Could the real reason for dissent in the Commons be the fact that, like virtually all of the 1987 cabinet, many Members of Parliament have one eye on their retirement?

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