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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2005, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Banks changes name for Lords life
West Ham MP
Tony Banks: A different name for a "safe house"
Ex-minister Tony Banks is taking on a new name to go with his new life as a member of the House of Lords.

Instead of becoming conventional Lord Banks, the ex-minister is to take the title of Lord Stratford of Stratford in the London Borough of Newham.

"I have gone to a safe house, as they say, so I might as well have a different name," he told BBC News.

He still expects to continue largely to be called Tony Banks but Lord Stratford would be his "nom de politics".

As an MP, Mr Banks' office was based in Stratford, east London, for 20 years and he also lives in the area.

The House of Lords authorities said his new title was allowed provided there were no other Lord Stratfords. He discovered there had never been a Lord Stratford.

'New adventure'

The new peer said some people had suggested it would have been easier to take the title of Lord Banks.

But he wanted to mark his change in role.

"I do feel I am starting a new life," he said. "It is a new adventure, it's something different."

Mr Banks received his "letters patent" confirming his new title on Thursday but does not take his seat in the Lords until 4 July.

He is among 27 new peers of different parties. The new batch will make Labour the largest party in the Lords for the first time, with six more peers than the Conservatives.

Rising trend?

Charles Mosley, editor-in-chief of Debrett's, said it used be to the norm for people to take their title after a place name.

But after life peerages were introduced in 1958 most new peers used their surnames for their titles, perhaps mostly because of a lack of imagination.

Mr Mosley suggested changes in names were gradually increasing again.

Former Commons Speaker George Thomas had become Viscount Tonypandy; ex-Cabinet minister Humphrey Atkins had been made Lord Colnbrook; and ex-Conservative MP Anthony Royle had become Lord Fanshawe of Richmond.

The mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales said he was delighted about the new title of Lord Stratford.

"It both recognises the tremendous contribution he has made to the borough as well as reflecting Stratford's growing aspirations in terms of regeneration and Olympic hopes," he said.

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