Roll of honour: Leading figures from region get seats in Lords

SOME of Yorkshire's most prominent public figures have been given peerages as Downing Street announced more than 50 new members of the House of Lords.

The roll of honour includes a clutch of working peers nominated to represent each of the main parties, as well as a special Dissolution List to mark the end of the last Parliament.

Four of the region's former MPs – John Prescott, Richard Allan, Bill O'Brien and Phil Willis – were all honoured as was former Bradford Council leader and chairman of the Local Government Association Dame Margaret Eaton.

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The lists also include Helen Newlove, who has campaigned against drink-related violence since her husband Garry was beaten to death by a gang in Warrington in 2007, who will become a Tory peer.

Mrs Newlove said: "I'm overwhelmed at this honour.

"I am just an ordinary woman, propelled into high profile by a set of horrifying circumstances which I wish with all my heart had never occurred.

"I could be anybody in any neighbourhood. I don't think I have done anything special or said anything extraordinary.

"I've just asked that people take responsibility for their own, and their children's, actions, and highlighted the deterioration of life in some neighbourhoods across Britain as 'yob' behaviour has taken hold."

The roll of honour was not without controversy with former Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair to become a crossbencher.

Sir Ian is likely to see the move as an opportunity to carry on unfinished business after his career was cut short when he was axed from Scotland Yard by Tory Mayor Boris Johnson.

The political coup ended a colourful and often controversial career which lingers in the minds of many of those still involved at the top of policing. Sir Ian's supporters will point to his record on police

reform, implementing neighbourhood beats and championing community support officers.

But the shadow of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes looms large over his tenure and yesterday relatives said the appointment was a "final slap in the face for our family"

Sir Ian said: "I hope it will be seen primarily as a tribute to the men and women of the Metropolitan Police whom I had the privilege to command.

"I look forward to participating in the work of the House of Lords in the future."

Firearms officers shot Mr de Menezes seven times at Stockwell Tube station in south London on July 22, 2005, after mistaking him for failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman.

The 27-year-old's cousin, Vivian Figueiredo, said: "We are disgusted at this decision.

"As commissioner, we believe Ian Blair was ultimately accountable for the death of Jean, for the lies told and the cover-up."

There are also seats in the House for children's television presenter Floella Benjamin, who was made a Liberal Democrat peer, while Sue Nye, a key adviser to Gordon Brown, will join for the Labour Party.

Ex-Tory leader Michael Howard and former Northern Ireland first

minister Ian Paisley were also elevated to the House.

Democratic Unionist leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson said: "For some four decades, Dr Paisley represented the people of North Antrim with distinction. His leadership of the DUP and principled position throughout his career is worthy of this honour.

"An entire generation of Unionists were inspired to enter frontline politics by Ian Paisley. He is a giant of politics in Northern Ireland."

The UK's first black Cabinet minister, Paul Boateng, later served as High Commissioner to South Africa, is made a working peer on the Labour benches.

He will be joined there by former first minister of Scotland Jack McConnell, ex-TUC general secretary John Monks and Mr Brown's one-time special adviser Wilf Stevenson.

Alongside Mr Howard, a host of Tory grandees feature after leaving the Commons. They include former agriculture minister John Gummer, ex-economic secretary John Maples and the the 1922 Committee's departing chairman Sir Michael Spicer.