Financial News

  • 4 August 2014, 19:55

Brady And Ex-M&S Boss To Get Tory Peerages

David Cameron is to hand peerages to The Apprentice star Karren Brady, the former Marks & Spencer (M&S) boss Sir Stuart Rose and a multimillionaire Conservative donor in a wave of appointments that could revive a festering row about membership of the House of Lords.

Sky News can exclusively reveal that Ms Brady and Sir Stuart have been lined up as Conservative members of the upper house.

A Government insider said that Michael Farmer, a co-treasurer of and long-standing donor to the Tories, is also expected to be made a peer when the new list is unveiled.

The appointments of Ms Brady and Sir Stuart will bring two of Britain's most prominent businesspeople into the Lords at a time when the main parties are battling to secure high-profile support from business leaders in the run-up to next year's General Election.

Mr Farmer is less well-known outside the City but earned the nickname 'Mr Copper' after making a fortune from the commodities markets.

He has donated several million pounds to Conservative coffers in recent years and became co-treasurer of the party in 2012.

Another source said Joanna Shields, the former Facebook executive who went on to run Tech City, the London-based hub for technology businesses, had also been mentioned in recent days as a potential appointee, although her presence on the final list could not be verified.

The timing of an announcement is unclear, although sources indicated that it could come as soon as next week.

Around 20 new peers are expected to be appointed, with the majority selected by Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader.

New members of the Lords are subjected to a strict vetting process, which the Government source said had now been completed in relation to the latest nominees.

The forthcoming arrivals will increase membership of the Lords to more than 850, reinforcing its status as the second-largest legislative chamber in the world, behind only China's National People's Congress.

The frequent appointment of new peers has sparked criticism about the cost to taxpayers and the ability of the Lords to function effectively as a legislative scrutineer.

It has also led to rows about the propriety of handing peerages to prominent party supporters and donors.

A number of leading business figures, including Lord Myners, the former M&S chairman, and Lord Davies, who ran Standard Chartered, were parachuted into the Lords during the banking crisis and took on ministerial roles.

Both Ms Brady and Sir Stuart have appeared at Conservative annual conferences in recent years, with the West Ham United boss also taking on a role as small business adviser to the Government.

Sir Stuart, who has taken on a string of jobs since leaving M&S including the chairmanship of Ocado, the online grocer, has also been advising the Government on NHS reform.

Reports this week said that Michael Cashman, the ex-EastEnders actor, would be one of three new Labour members of the Lords, while David Willetts, the former universities and science minister, and the former energy minister Greg Barker are said to be in line for peerages after the next election.

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment, while none of the prospective new peers could be reached for comment.

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