Leeds council leader Judith Blake and ex-Archbishop of York John Sentamu to enter House of Lords

The leader of Leeds City Council is to take up a place in the House of Lords in the New Year  - while the former Archbishop of York has finally been elevated after uproar was caused when he was missed out of previous announcements.

Judith Blake will take up her seat as a Labour peer in the new year, while Dr John Sentamu will sit as a cross-bench member of the upper chamber.

Coun Blake, who has served as Leader of Leeds City Council since 2015 and before that was Deputy Leader since 2010, has also been a ward councillor in Leeds for 24 years.

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The Labour councillor will start discussions in the New Year to ensure a smooth transition for when she steps down as leader of Leeds City Council, once it is clear when her new role will commence.

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Judith Blake: From the Leeds United terraces to the corridors of power

She said: “I am honoured to be selected to join the House of Lords at this hugely important time. It has been a great privilege to serve as Leader of my home city of Leeds for the last five and a half years.

“Joining the House of Lords will allow me to continue to represent the interests of our city in Westminster. It has never been more important to have regional voices with experience of local government represented at a national level.”

Dr Sentamu, the UK's first black archbishop, retired in June after 15 years. In October the Government was accused of "institutional prejudice" for failing to ennoble him.

Leeds city council leader Judith Blake

Despite all his predecessors being made peers and allowed to continue sitting in the House of Lords he was not.

The Government quickly promised his elevation was imminent and said the delay was due to a procedural hold up with the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

While Dr Sentamu was personally welcomed by the Lords Speaker Lord Fowler, although he expressed concerns about the number of peerages handed out by Boris Johnson.

Lord Fowler said: “My fundamental concern is about the number of new peers that have been appointed by the Prime Minister in his first 12 months in Office.

“Mr Johnson has added 16 to his list of appointments bringing the total for the year up to 52 new peers over two lists. This list will bring the total in the House of Lords to over 830 - almost 200 more than the House of Commons.”

He said: “I will not comment on the personalities involved, although perhaps I could personally welcome Dr John Sentamu.

“But my concern remains that the central defect is the present system of appointments. Unlike other senates in democratic countries, there is no limit on the number of members there can be. Any Prime Minister can appoint as many as he or she likes. To her great credit the previous Prime Minister, Mrs May, committed her government to a policy of ‘moderation’. In a massive U-turn, those words seem to have been forgotten.”

Lord Fowler said that it “may also now be the time to review the role and the powers of the House of Lords Appointments Commission”.

It comes after Former Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas appeared in today’s list of peerages, despite objections by watchdogs.

The move went against the advice of the House of Lords Appointments Committee.

And a statement posted on the gov.uk website said: “The House of Lords Appointments Commission was invited by the Prime Minister to undertake vetting of all party political and cross-bench nominations.

“The commission is an independent non-statutory body. It provides advice but appointments are a matter for the Prime Minister.

“The commission has completed its vetting in respect of all nominees.

“The commission advised the Prime Minister that it could not support one nominee – Peter Cruddas.

“The Prime Minister has considered the commission’s advice and wider factors, and concluded that, exceptionally, the nomination should proceed.”

Mr Cruddas was at the centre of the cash for access scandal where he was alleged to have offered access to David Cameron and George Osborne in exchange for party donations.

He denied this claim, but the Court of Appeal found it to be true following a defamation case and appeal by the Sunday Times.

But in a letter from the Prime Minister to Lord Bew, Chair of the The House of Lords Appointments Commission, Mr Johnson said “the events in question date back eight years” and there had been no suggestion of wrongdoing before or since.

He said: “Mr Cruddas has made an outstanding contributions in the charity sector and business, and has continued his long track record of committed political service.”

Lord Fowler added: “The number of appointments now being made also run smack against the recommendations of the Burns committee on the size of the House that was overwhelmingly endorsed by the House of Lords. The committee recommended that numbers should be reduced to 600. To add insult to injury, for the second time the announcement of new peers has been made when Parliament is not sitting.

“Sometimes the Lords itself is blamed for a failure to change. My answer to that is - don't blame the Lords, blame successive governments who have avoided the subject.

“The reply has been that change is ‘not a priority’. It is possible that with the last two lists, the public may now disagree.”