Major Tory donor among 13 new peers named in honours list | Honours system

A major donor to the Conservative party who reportedly featured on Boris Johnson’s original resignation honours list is among 13 new peers announced by the government on Friday evening, eight of them Conservatives.

Stuart Marks, a technology entrepreneur who has served as a senior treasurer for the Conservatives, has been given a life peerage, an official announcement said. He has personally donated £119,500 to the party and another £56,500 through his company.

A series of reports named Marks as among those nominated for peerages in Johnson’s resignation honours list, along with MPs including Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams.

However, Marks, Dorries and Adams were among several names reportedly removed from the list.

Another donor handed a peerage on Friday night – as the Commons began a week of recess – was Franck Petitgas, who has worked for Rishi Sunak as a special adviser on business and investment. He has previously given £35,000 to the Conservatives.

Other new Tory peers include Paul Goodman, the former MP who edits the ConservativeHome website; the businesswoman and disability campaigner Rosa Monckton; and two senior councillors – John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk council, and James Jamieson, formerly chair of the Local Government Association.

Labour nominated four people for peerages, including Ayesha Hazarika, the broadcaster who was formerly a special adviser; John Hannett, head of the Usdaw shopworkers’ union, and lawyer Gerald Shamash, who is solicitor to the Labour party.

Plaid Cymru nominated one peer, Carmen Smith, a former chief of staff in the Welsh Senedd, who is aged 27.

The new nominations push the size of the Lords to only a few peers away from 800 – there were 784 peers still active before the latest crop. It is the biggest legislative chamber in the world apart from China’s National People’s Congress.

A series of reports and recommendations have suggested the upper house be cut in size. A committee set up by the then-lord speaker, Norman Fowler, recommended in 2017 that it be reduced to no more than 600 members, with new peers limited to 15-year terms.

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However, since then a series of prime ministers have created yet more peers, some of whom have been more active and diligent than others.

A Guardian analysis in 2022 found that of 318 possible sittings that newspaper proprietor Evgeny Lebedev could have attended since Johnson made him a peer, he had been to four, 1.25% of the total.

In the four-plus years since he was made a peer in November 2019, Lebedev has spoken twice, totally less than 10 minutes in all, and never voted.

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