Boris Johnson’s plan to create large number of new peers comes under fire |

Boris Johnson’s plans for a major list of peerages has come under criticism, with the Lord Speaker saying it could erode “public confidence in our parliamentary system”.

The House of Lords Appointment Commission (Holac), the body responsible for vetting peerages, is holding up the outgoing prime minister’s plans, Whitehall sources told the Sunday Times, who also reported that such moves could be restricted in future.

The Lord Speaker, John McFall, is talking to Philip Norton, a Conservative peer, about his private member’s bill that would grant statutory powers to Holac.

It would prevent future prime ministers from recommending peers to the Crown before the commission’s verdict on their suitability and would also require them to tell the commission why the nominees meet the appointment criteria.

Lord McFall has also written to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the final two candidates battling to become prime minister, urging them not to follow Johnson’s modus operandi that has led to accusations of cronyism.

Johnson, who will create more peers in the autumn in a resignation honours list, has already appointed 86 peers, bringing the number of members sitting in the Lords to more than 800.

In his letter, McFall said: “A House of Lords that is too big, combined with the fact that some recently appointed members have not been especially active, undermines public confidence in our parliamentary system. I am sure you agree that public trust in politics and in our parliament and constitution is crucial.”

Johnson’s list of peerages is expected to include the former editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre. The outgoing prime minister attempted to make Dacre the chair of broadcasting regulator Ofcom, but the appointment was opposed by an independent selection panel and Dacre subsequently pulled out of the process.

Jo Johnson takes his seat in the House of Lords.
Jo Johnson takes his seat in the House of Lords. His ennoblement prompted criticism of his brother Boris on the grounds of cronyism Photograph: House of Lords/PA

Johnson has previously provoked criticism over his peerage appointments, having already nominated Charles Moore his former editor at the Daily Telegraph, Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian-born businessman and son of a former KGB officer, and Jo Johnson, his brother.

A government spokesman said: “Given retirements and departures, new members of the Lords continue to be needed. It is entirely proper for a prime minister and opposition parties to put forward names for a political peerage list.”

Last weekend the Observer reported that Johnson is planning to elevate at least two current MPs to the House of Lords well before the next election, which would trigger two byelections that will test public support for whoever replaces him in Downing Street on 5 September.

It is understood that he wants to hand peerages to Nigel Adams, a Cabinet Office minister and one of his closest allies, and the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, one of his most loyal cabinet colleagues.

Analysis in 2020 found that almost a quarter of peerages awarded that year were to Conservative party donors, close associates or former colleagues of Johnson including businessman Peter Cruddas who was ennobled in defiance…

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