PRIME MINISTER David Cameron should reverse his decision not to make the new Leader of the House of Lords a full Cabinet member, former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd has argued.
In a passionate speech, she told peers that his “demotion” of the Upper House in the Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month challenged “its rights, its authority and its long-established role and its status in the constitution”.
She said: “We live in dangerous times. It breaks the mould of British history. It strikes at the very roots of our bi-cameral Parliament.
“The place of this House in the Cabinet of every prime minister has never been challenged until now.
“I never thought I would witness such careless disregard for the way our constitution works.
“The Prime Minister’s exclusion of the noble lady... from full Cabinet status has rightly shocked all parts of the House.”
Lady Stowell replaced Lord Hill of Oareford, who is Mr Cameron’s nominee to be a European Commissioner. But unlike Lord Hill, Lady Stowell will only attend Cabinet rather than being a full member of it.
Dewsbury-born Baroness Boothroyd has called on Mr Cameron to “correct his error without further prevarication”.
She described the constitution select committee’s conclusions on the matter as “grim reading”, adding: “They strip bare the Prime Minister’s pretensions that all is well, that nothing serious has happened that won’t be put right at some time or other.”
Baroness Boothroyd went on: “Did the Prime Minister really expect the leader of this House to accept the offer to top up her pay by a subsidy from Conservative Party funds?
“It was a bizarre proposition.
“He fails to understand that we are a bi-cameral Parliament and as such this House should be fully represented at the highest level of Government.”
A number of Tory peers, including Cameron loyalists, are said to back the Baroness.