Anger at ‘downgrading’ of House of Lords leader in the Cabinet reshuffle

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David Cameron is facing a fresh backlash from peers over his decision to not to make the new Leader of the House of Lords a full Cabinet member.

The Lords Constitution Committee expressed concern Baroness Stowell of Beeston would have her authority undermined and her views would not carry the same weight at the top of government as her predecessor.

In his reshuffle earlier this month, Mr Cameron announced that he was making Lady Stowell a middle-ranking Minister of state so as not to break the legal limit on the number of full Cabinet ministers although she will attend Cabinet meetings.

The Prime Minister has since sought to reassure peers that he regarded the current situation as a “purely temporary one” which he intended to rectify at the earliest possible opportunity.

But the committee warned the downgrading of the post could mean Lady Stowell will not be properly listened to when she had “unpalatable” advice.

“In such matters the leader needs authority. While some of that authority can come from tangible things like sitting at the Cabinet table and receiving Cabinet papers, some of it is intangible, such as having full Cabinet status on the same terms as senior ministers in the Commons,” it said.

“If the leader is no longer a full member of the Cabinet there may be a risk that the views of the House are not fully listened to in the Cabinet.”

The committee chair, the Conservative former cabinet minister, Lord Lang of Monkton, said: “There are strong feelings in the House of Lords about the status of the leader and that for the first time the House will be unrepresented among full Cabinet members.”

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