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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 December, 2003, 03:02 GMT
Hague calls for honours overhaul
William Hague
Mr Hague says the honours system is losing relevance
Former Tory leader William Hague has joined calls for a radical overhaul of the honours system.

The current arrangement was "seriously damaged" and was losing credibility, he told the News of the World.

Honours should be decided by a cross-party committee of MPs rather than ministers and civil servants, he said.

The Cabinet Office has said it will review the selection process, after it emerged a scientist was snubbed due to his support for animal testing.

Mr Hague also broke party ranks by calling for an elected House of Lords.

Leaked papers

The review announcement came after it emerged that senior government scientist Colin Blakemore was blocked from being honoured due to his support for animal experimentation.

The system needs bringing up-to-date and if a dyed-in-the-wool Tory like me thinks so then it really does need it
William Hague
Professor Blakemore, head of the Medical Research Council (MRC), threatened to resign after details of deliberations of civil servants on the Honours Committee were leaked to papers.

Other leaks suggested tennis player Tim Henman was considered for an honour to "add interest".

Mr Hague told the News of the World honours should only be handed out for work "over and above" what people were paid to do anyway.

He said: "It is ridiculously secretive, not respected by the public, abused by governments and sometimes means honouring the wrong people."

"The system needs bringing up-to-date and if a dyed-in-the-wool Tory like me thinks so then it really does need it", he added.

After a list of "refuseniks" who declined honours was published in newspapers earlier this month JG Ballard, author of Empire of the Sun, said he turned down a CBE this year for "services to literature" because he was opposed to the "preposterous charade" of the honours system.

And in November black poet Benjamin Zephaniah said he rejected the offer of an OBE last month because he believes it stands for colonial brutality and slavery.

On the issue of an elected House of Lords, Mr Hague told the newspaper it would make Parliament stronger against "high-handed" governments.

Honours system 'is under review'
23 Dec 03  |  Politics
Honours 'elite' raises concerns
24 Nov 03  |  Politics
What do you want, a medal?
22 Dec 03  |  Magazine
Scientist issues honours threat
22 Dec 03  |  Science/Nature
Q&A: The honours system
22 Dec 03  |  Politics
Leak reveals honours snubs
21 Dec 03  |  UK

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