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Saturday, June 20, 1998 Published at 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK

UK Politics

Labour's new Lords

Lord Bragg: supports reform of upper chamber

By BBC News Online's Nick Assinder.

Tony Blair has taken the first step towards dismantling the House of Lords by appointing a fistful of Labour supporters to the upper chamber.

In a widely leaked announcement, the Prime Minister created 18 new working Labour peers, including the well-known Labour supporter and broacaster, Melvyn Bragg, and the TV boss, Waheed Alli.

BBC correspondent Lorraine Davidson profiles the new peers
He rewarded Labour's outgoing general secretary Tom Sawyer, who spearheaded the campaign to reform the party structure, as well as union boss Tony Clarke,

Mr Blair also included four Liberal Democrats and five put forward by the Conservative leader William Hague - including the former Tory Chancellor and Eurosceptic, Norman Lamont.

The move is the first step in the government's campaign to finally abolish the Lords and replace it with an elected second chamber.

The prime minister needed to create a bevvy of new working peers to balance the in-built Tory majority.

'Just call me Melvyn'

Lord Bragg, the 58-year-old presenter of ITV's flagship arts programme, The South Bank Show, has been head of arts at London Weekend Television since 1982, and was made a multi-millionaire by the LWT flotation.

He welcomed his peerage but urged people to keep calling him Melvyn instead of referring to him by his new title.

"It's going to take a bit of getting used to," he admitted.

He confirmed that as a Labour peer he was preparing to vote for the abolition of his hereditary colleagues as part of constitutional reform.

Lord Alli is managing director of Planet 24 Television, one of Britain's most successful production companies.

At the age of 34, Alli, who launched the Big Breakfast Show for Channel 4, is said to be worth £10m.

Lamont honoured

Norman Lamont's name was absent from John Major's resignation honours list last year.

[ image: Norman Lamont was excluded from John Major's resignation honours]
Norman Lamont was excluded from John Major's resignation honours
This was widely interpreted as a snub to the man who presided over the UK's withdrawal from the European exchange rate mechanism on Black Wednesday in September 1992.

Lord Lamont had also bitterly criticised Mr Major's style of leadership describing the Tory government as being "in office but not in power".

Commenting on his elevation to the Lords, he said: "The Lords is going to be a very interesting place in the immediate future.

"I look forward to playing an active part there. I shall continue to speak on Europe and strongly to fight the single currency."

Tory PR guru 'thrilled'

[ image: Brian MacKenzie has served with Durham Police]
Brian MacKenzie has served with Durham Police
Also ennobled was Sir Tim Bell, the PR guru credited with playing a major part in establishing the Conservative government in the 1980s.

He said: "I am very delighted, very flattered and very thrilled. I hope to be able to help William Hague to become prime minister.

"I have no doubt that I will find myself helping the Conservative Party view of the reform of the House of Lords, which is to oppose it."

The full list of new peers is:


  • Waheed Alli, managing director of Planet 24 Productions Ltd
  • Tom Sawyer, out-going general secretary of the Labour Party
  • Melvyn Bragg, arts broadcaster and novelist
  • Chris Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods
  • Chief Superintendent Brian MacKenzie, former president of the Chief Superintendents' Association of England and Wales
  • Norman Warner, senior policy adviser to Home Secretary Jack Straw
  • David Brookman, general secretary of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation
  • Anthony Clarke, former deputy general secretary of the Union of Postal Workers
  • Tony Christopher, chairman of the Trades Union Fund Managers Ltd.
  • Christine Crawley, MEP for Birmingham East
  • John Tomlinson, MEP for Birmingham West
  • Nazir Ahmed, business development manager
  • William Bach, barrister
  • David Evans, chairman of the Centurion Press Group
  • Toby Harris, Labour leader of Haringey Council and chairman of the Association of London Government
  • Mary Goudie, public affairs consultant
  • Glenys Thornton, public affairs consultant
  • Polla Uddin, quality manager at London Borough of Tower Hamlets

  • Norman Lamont, former Tory Chancellor
  • Sir Tim Bell, public relations consultant
  • Peta Buscombe, vice-chairman of the Conservative Party
  • Philip Norton, Professor of Government and director of the Centre for Legislative Studies at the University of Hull
  • Paul White, leader of the Tories on Essex County Council and deputy chairman of the Local Government Association
Liberal Democrat
  • Sue Miller, former Liberal Democrat leader on South Somerset District Council
  • Margaret Sharp, academic and member of the Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee
  • Timothy Clement-Jones, public affairs consultant and chairman of the Liberal Democrat Federal Finance Committee
  • Andrew Phillips, solicitor and the chairman of the Citizenship Foundation

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