The India-born CEO of Mitie Group plc, Ruby McGregor-Smith, and advisors to prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne are among those who have been named in the Dissolution Honours List released last week.
McGregor-Smith, CBE, who was born in Lucknow, north India, is the first Asian woman to be appointed as chief executive of a FTSE 250 company. She is also a former winner of the GG2 Leadership Awards, hosted by the Asian Media and Marketing Group, publishers of GG2 and Eastern Eye.
The 52-year-old mother of two became CEO of Mitie, the strategic outsourcing company, in May 2007 and is a non executive director at the department for culture, media and sport. She has been made a Conservative peer in the House of Lords.
Among the new Liberal Democrats peers are Lorely Burt, former MP for Solihull and former chair of the party and Jonny Oates, who was former chief of staff to Nick Clegg, the deputy pri-me minister in the previous coalition government.
Cameron’s advisor Ameet Gill, the director of strategy at Downing Street, has been honoured with an OBE for public service as has Ramesh Chhabra, a former special advisor to Osborne.
The deputy head of the direct communications unit at 10 Downing Street, Lalini Phoolchand, has also been conferred an MBE for public service.
Cameron appointed 26 supporters last Thursday (27) to the Lords which, with 826 members at pre-sent, is the world’s second largest legislative body after China’s National People’s Congress. Many lords serve lifelong terms.
Last week’s appointments are designed to help the Conservative party – which won the May election and are in a majority in the elected 650-seat House of Commons, but not in the Lords – to pass laws without them being blocked, chan-ged or watered down.
The list, comprising former MPs, party advisers and business figures, includes William Hague, who served under Cameron as foreign secretary and stepped down as a Conservative MP at the general election this year.
As well as the 26 new Conservative Lords, Cameron also appointed eight new peers from the Labour party and 11 from the Liberal Democrats.
The increasing cost of the Lords, who can claim up to £300 per day for attending parliament at a time of public-sector pay restrictions as well as public spending cuts, has boosted calls for reform or outright abolition of the chamber.
“At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, people will see this as the Tories putting their cronies before the country,” said Lucy Powell, spokeswo-man for the Labour party.
The chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society campaign group, Katie Ghose, estimated the new appointments would cost at least £1.2 million a year. A parliamentary report put the total cost of the chamber at £94.4m in 2014-15.
Cameron attempted to reform the Lords during his first term as prime minister, promising in his 2010 election manifesto to create a “mainly elected” second chamber. But a rebellion in his own party ranks scuppered that plan.
After winning a second five-year term in May, Cameron said there was “no point” in trying to revive the plan. He instead said he would appoint new members in an attempt to gain greater influence in the chamber.
Cameron still lacks a majority in the Lords, meaning that the unelected chamber could still hold up, for example, his plans for a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, his push to replace human rights laws and other reforms.
By convention, the chamber does not block bills that fulfil promises in the gover-ning party’s election manifesto, but it can amend them.
Ultimately, the Commons can overrule the Lords, but many Lords amendments do become law, and the back and forth between the chambers can delay government plans.