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Tuesday, December 8, 1998 Published at 23:20 GMT

UK Politics

Hague unveils new Lords team

Relations between the Tory leader and peers have been strained

William Hague has made five new appointments to his frontbench team in the Lords days after it was ravaged by sackings and resignations.

Earl Attlee, the grandson of the post-war Labour prime minister Clement Attlee, takes up the post of frontbench spokesman for Northern Ireland.

[ image: The Labour PM's grandson joins Tory frontbench]
The Labour PM's grandson joins Tory frontbench
Lord Cope of Berkley and Baroness Denton of Wakefield, both former ministers, will speak on Home Affairs and Trade and Industry.

Lord Dixon Smith has been appointed as local government spokesman and Lord Astor of Hever joins the whips office.

The appointments were made necessary after Mr Hague's sacking of the Tory leader in the Lords, Viscount Cranborne.

Lord Cranborne was sacked after he brokered a deal with the prime minister on Lords reform which would have enabled 91 hereditary peers to participate in Parliament temporarily despite Labour's pledge to abolish all heriditaries.

The deal was done without Mr Hague's authority.

The sacking provoked the resignation of the entire Tory frontbench in the Lords which Mr Hague refused to accept.

[ image: Baroness Strange left the party]
Baroness Strange left the party
But several senior peers could not be convinced to stay on including, Lord Fraser, Cranborne's deputy, Lord Pilkington, Lord Bowness and the Earl of Home.

Two other Tory peers, the Baronesses Strange and Flather, left the party to sit as independent crossbenchers in protest at Mr Hague's treatment of their former leader.

The row put severe strains on the relationship between Tory peers and their counterparts in the Commons, with most Lords backing their former leader and MPs giving their public support to Mr Hague.

With the new appointments Mr Hague will hope to draw a line under the matter.

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