Wrecking Peers In Pay of Universities

At least 20 peers who tried to derail the government’s Higher Education Bill last week are in the pay of universities, Guido can reveal. Jo Johnson’s Bill aims to encourage competition by allowing new high-quality higher education providers to call themselves universities. Naturally existing universities oppose the extra competition and want to block the Bill. Last week it reached committee stage in the Lords, where peers voted for a wrecking amendment to derail it. Guido can reveal a stunning conflict of interest: 20 of the Lords who voted to frustrate the Bill are in the pay of universities. They are:

  1. Lord Alton of Liverpool, Director and Professor of Citizenship, Liverpool John Moores University Foundation for Citizenship (Paid until Sept 2016)
  2. Lord Blunkett, Holder of a personal Chair of Politics in Practice, University of Sheffield (Paid)
  3. Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Vice Chancellor, Aston University (Paid)
  4. Lord Elystan-Morgan, Independent Chairman of a Forwarding Group Committee established by the following Higher Education Institutions, namely, University of Wales; University of Wales Trinity/St Davids; University of Swansea Metropolitan; to consider ways of bringing about the amalgamation of these institutions; (Paid – “fees paid on an ad hoc sittings basis”)
  5. Lord Hain, Visiting Professor, University of South Wales (Paid)
  6. Viscount Hanworth, Professor of Econometrics and Computational Statistics, University of Leicester (Paid)
  7. Baroness Hayman, Chair, Cambridge University Health Partners (Paid)
  8. Baroness Hughes of Stretford, Chair of Council, University of Salford (Paid)
  9. Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, Master of Mansfield College, Oxford (Paid)
  10. Baroness Kidron, Visiting Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University (Paid in kind – Member’s expenses are reimbursed and accommodation is provided)
  11. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Professorial Fellow, University of Stirling, Scotland (Paid)
  12. Lord Mair, Professor of Civil Engineering and Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Cambridge (Paid)
  13. Lord Morgan, “Retired Academic” (Paid)
  14. Baroness Quin, Member of the Court of Newcastle University; Council Member, University College, Durham (Paid)
  15. Lord Reid of Cardowan, Chairman, Institute for Security and Resilience Studies, University College, London (Paid)
  16. Lord Smith of Finsbury, Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge (Paid)
  17. Baroness Smith of Newnham, Senior University Lecturer in International Relations, University of Cambridge; Graduate Tutor and Director of Studies/Fellow in Politics, Robinson College, University of Cambridge; (Paid)
  18. Lord Tomlinson, Higher Education College, in partnership with a number of UK State Universities; Chairman, Advisory Panel, London School of Commerce (also, of its two associated Schools: School of Technology & Management; and School of Business & Law) (Paid)
  19. Lord Winston, Professor, Science and Society, Imperial College London (Paid)
  20. Baroness Wolf of Dulwich, Professor of Public Sector Management, King’s College, University of London (Paid)

These conflicted ermine-clad boffins voted against the reforms while taking money from universities who want to block them. They essentially form a paid up self-interested “Universities Party” in the House of Lords, with no one there to represent students’ interests. If all those with a personal interest in higher education had recused themselves from last week’s vote, the wrecking amendment would have failed. Imagine the outcry if such a conflict of interest existed over a vote on any other industry…

UPDATE: Baroness Brown of Cambridge is no longer in the remunerated employment of Aston University.

Tom Watson: “Will Straw Deserves a Peerage”

Tom Watson has been touring the TV studios to attack Cameron over the honours row, though he’s happy for Labour Remainer Will Straw to get a gong. Meanwhile Corbyn’s office say they don’t have a comment. Surely nothing to do with Shami’s peerage

UPDATE: Watson tells Wato that giving Miliband’s campaign director Spencer Livermore a peerage was “rewarding failure”:

Leave Heavers Tug For Victory

Always keen to see an MP at the end of a rope, Guido popped down to the annual parliamentary Tug of War last night (all proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support). Ladies first – Macmillan employees versus Therese Coffey’s team of MPs. Kelly Tolhurst chose the losing side again…

Then the men’s Lords v Commons bout, which saw well-built Remainiacs Alec Shelbrooke (his sixth tug of war appearance) trialling the phrase “Remain” instead of “Stay” as a rallying cry to team-mates. Though in the end it was the Leave heavers who made the difference – hardman captain Mike Penning and Eurosceptic musclemen Nigel Adams and David Burrowes tugged their team to victory. Even the Daily Politics’ Giles Dilnot turning out as a ringer for the Lords couldn’t stop them. Highlight was Bercow calling Shelbrooke “a very big bloke” – Shelbers replied “it’s all relative…”

Comrade Bob’s Costly Covert Union Cash

Panjandrum turned peer Bob Kerslake has never voted with the government since he joined the Lords a year ago. Even on votes where the majority of crossbench peers back the Tories, ‘independent’ Kerslake has always voted against. His tedious lefty interventions have seen him dubbed ‘Comrade Bob’ by ermine-clad colleagues.

This afternoon Kerslake has been trying to nobble the attempt to abolish trade union check-off, the outdated system where union subs are automatically taken from civil servants’ pay packets, instead of making them opt in to pay. Comrade Bob not only wants this covert union funding to stay, he wants to expand it to “Any employee whose employer deducts income tax”. A bizarre intervention which would end up costing businesses tens of millions of pounds a year…

Arise, Lord Hain of Hypocrisy

The Rt Hon. the Lord Hain, ennobled yesterday, 24 November 2015:

“I, Peter Gerald Hain, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.”

Peter Hain MP, a year ago, 3 November 2014:

“The Lords are an archaic anomaly which fuels disillusionment with British politics. It exists purely on a democratic deficit which has been allowed to evolve unchecked for centuries… the fact is that people are fed up with an out-of-touch political class and the growing sense that Westminster is failing us all.”

What was it about the £300-a-day allowance that changed his mind?

Bishop Bashes ‘Ugly, Squalid, Dirty Sex’

Today’s debate on pornography in the Lords takes a bizarre turn during this speech from the Bishop of Chester…

Osborne Jokes About Abolishing Lords

Sadly Osborne was probably joking about the suggestion of saving the taxpayer millions by abolishing the Lords. This does deviate from Tory party policy though:

“That is a very decent proposal for the Autumn Statement which we will give proper consideration to… My view is clear, we should have an elected House of Lords.”

Peerless banter.

House of Lords Hypocrites

“Very proud of LibDem Lords,” crowed Tim Farron after Osborne was defeated in the Lords last night, adding: “We have sent a clear signal… Tonight’s vote gives people hope”. Yet what did Farron say about the second chamber just a few months ago?

“a system which is rotten to the core and allows unelected, unaccountable people to think they are above the law… Nothing will be achieved until Parliamentarians vote in favour of abolition”

What was it about the LibDem wipeout in democratic elections that caused Farron to change his mind about the “rotten, unelected, unaccountable” second chamber?

What about John McDonnell? Last night he praised the “huge blow in the House of Lords“, claiming the vote showed “people are waking up to what Labour has been warning“. That is the same John McDonnell who voted to abolish the Lords entirely in 2003. 

“Only the Labour Lords motion could deliver the results needed,” said Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team last night. That’s despite Corbyn vowing just two months ago to block new peers in a bid to increase pressure in favour of abolition. 

Sadiq Khan said “I welcome” the vote, despite previously insisting that the current make up of the Lords had “no role in a modern democracy”. Turns out these principled parliamentary reformers are big fans of the Lords when it helps them score a win…

Reaction: Osborne Loses Lords Tax Credits Vote

The 289 to 272 defeat in the Lords forces Osborne into a humiliating climbdown to “help in the transition” of tax credit cuts…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Tory Peer: Let Brothers and Sisters Enter Civil Partnerships

Lord Lexden, the official historian of the Conservative Party, tabled an interesting question this afternoon, asking whether the Civil Partnership Act could be amended to allow siblings to register as partners:

“Is it not the case that in Britain today, all other stable and loving couples are now able to formalise their relationships in legal terms, so vitality important where inheritance and its tax implications  are concerned.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Burnham’s Peerless Flip-Flopping

Guido could easily have made Andy Burnham’s increasingly ridiculous flip flops a daily feature during this leadership contest. Not only does Burnham think it’s great that former Labour MP Dave Watts has been made a peer, he also reckons “the Lords is now a national embarrassment.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Hain Gravy Train Hypocrisy

On 3 November 2014, not even twelve months ago, Peter Hain told his constituents he believed the second chamber should be elected:

“The Lords are an archaic anomaly which fuels disillusionment with British politics. It exists purely on a democratic deficit which has been allowed to evolve unchecked for centuries… the fact is that people are fed up with an out-of-touch political class and the growing sense that Westminster is failing us all.”

Yesterday, he became Lord Hain of Neath, writing in the Guardian that “it wasn’t an easy decision“, it had required “considerable thought“, but he concluded that “more peers in favour of reform are crucially important“.[…] Read the rest

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UKIP & Greens Cheated Out of Peers

lords-ratioWhatever you think about the selection of peers there was a terribly undemocratic partisan bias in the Lords appointments:

lords-chart

For every 435,945 votes the Tories got they appointed a Lord, it took over a million votes to justify a Labour peer and a mere 219,624 for a LibDem peer.[…] Read the rest

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Economist’s Peerless Fact Checking

economist lords

The Economist are excitedly promoting their shock revelation that some peers have done bad things, with a mugshots of five criminal “current members of the House of Lords“.

Just one problem.

Charles Nall-Cain, the Third Baron Brocket is not a member of the House of Lords, he’s an excluded hereditary peer.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Natalie Bennett Lands New Job as Junior Parliamentary Staffer

BENNET PARLIAMENT 1

Natalie Bennett finished behind Labour and the Tories in Holborn yet she has still managed to make it to parliament – by pretending to be a junior member of staff.

Bennett was spotted last week swanning down the corridors of power with a researcher’s pass around her neck, and indeed official records show she has been given a staff pass by Green peer Jenny Jones, allowing her unlimited access to the parliamentary estate.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Dave Creates Six New Tory Peers

The Queen has been pleased to signify Her intention of conferring a peerage of the United Kingdom for Life on the following:

  • Rt Hon Francis Maude

  • Ros Altmann CBE

  • George Bridges

  • Andrew Dunlop

  • Jim O’Neill

  • David Prior

Two former aides Bridges and Dunlop.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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