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Honours for PM’s chums to end

No other prime minister will hand out resignation honours after Cameron debacle, head of sleaze watchdog Lord Bew says.

 

No future prime minister will publish a resignation list of honours after the “public outcry” over David Cameron’s controversial choices, Theresa May’s ethical standards adviser has said.

Lord Bew, who chairs the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told the Telegraph that the idea of prime ministers handing out honours to friends when they leave office is “over”.

He also appeared hit out at some people who enter the House of Lords but fail to contribute, insisting that a peerage must be a “job” and not an “honour”.

The criticism comes as Mrs May attempts to draw a line under the row by insisting she wants a more accountable honours system than the one pursued under her predecessor.

It is understood the Prime Minister wants to launch a drive to regain trust in politics after Mr Cameron’s tenure to help create a “democracy that works for everyone”.

Lords reform is also back on the agenda after attempts by the Coalition at a fundamental change to Britain’s second chamber failed to gain cross-party support.

The changes come after a week dominated by damaging headlines over Mr Cameron’s decision to hand out gongs to 48 former colleagues and allies, as well as naming 13 new Tory peers. 

George Osborne, the former chancellor, Craig Oliver, Mr Cameron’s chief spin doctor, and Isabel Spearman, Samantha Cameron’s stylist, were all given honours.

New analysis by academics shows that Mr Cameron created lifetime peerages at a quicker rate than any prime minister in history, including Tony Blair.

Mr Cameron became the first prime minister to announce a resignation honours list for a generation, using a mechanism that both Mr Blair and Gordon Brown rejected.

Speaking to this newspaper in a personal capacity, Lord Bew said that after the backlash to the leaked announcements would put off future prime ministers of repeating the move.

“There are distinguished public servants on this list, but even so I think this has to be the last one given the public outcry,” Lord Bew said.

“The last two prime minister’s before David Cameron haven’t done it. I would be amazed if Theresa May does one.

“I just think it’s over now. If there was another list, it would provoke another heated row.”

He added: “A peerage is a job, it is not an honour. When I joined the Lords I was told we were on route to becoming that. We haven’t progressed as quickly along that path as I hoped.”

Despite backing reform of the House of Lords, Mr Cameron nominated 245 peers during his time in office, working out at an average of 39 a year.

According to University College London’s Constitution Unit, that rate is higher than any previous prime minister since lifetime peerages were created in 1958.

Mr Blair created 38 peers a year while Labour’s Harold Wilson appointed 38. Mr Brown pushed through just 12 peers a year.

Prof Meg Russell, director of the Constitution Unit, said: “David Cameron really lost any sense of self-control when it came to appointing peers.

“The only solution is regulation to create a limit on how many can be appointed each year. This is not a party political point. I said it under Tony Blair.

“Without regulation prime ministers find the patronage power too tempting. This is the only way to limit the size of the House of Lords.”

Mrs May’s plans to reform the Lords are not yet know but there is widespread concern among peers about the growing size of the chamber.

The Lords is the second largest unelected legislative assembly after China’s National People’s Congress.

George Osborne

David Cameron’s close friend, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State. Made Companion of Honour

Ed Llewellyn, Chief of Staff

Mr Llewellyn was at Mr Cameron’s side since he entered 10 Downing Street in May 2010, effectively as his gate keeper. He is said to covet an overseas ambassador role. Awarded: Peerage

Gabby Bertin, Director of External Affairs

Ms Bertin has been with Mr Cameron since before he became party leader. She originally worked as his spokesman before taking a more background job. Awarded: Peerage

Camilla Cavendish, Head of Policy Unit

A former trustee of Policy Exchange, the think-tank which did so much to develop thinking by Tory modernisers, Ms Cavendish was formerly a Times journalist. Awarded: Peerage

Laura Trott, Head of Strategic Communications

A former special adviser to Francis Maude, when he was Cabinet Office minister, Ms Trott was brought into Number 10 to advise on policies to benefit women. Awarded: MBE

Oliver Letwin, former Cabinet Office minister

MP for West Dorset and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster from 2014 to 2016 Awarded: Knighthood

Craig Oliver, Director of Communications

Mr Oliver, a former BBC executive, joined Mr Cameron as his £140,000-a-year head of communications in February 2011 after the resignation of Andy Coulson. Awarded: Knighthood

Gavin Williamson MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary

His stature has grown immeasurably as a key buffer between Tory MPs and Mr Cameron. He was at Mr Cameron’s side on the night of the EU referendum. Awarded: CBE

Liz Sugg, Head of Operations

Ms Sugg, made CBE in the dissolution honours last August, was a mainstay for Mr Cameron, often no more than a few feet from the former-PM on his visits around the UK and overseas. Awarded: Peerage

Dan Korski, digital adviser

Mr Korski played a key role in Mr Cameron’s lengthy EU renegotiations. He was criticised for complaining to the British Chambers of Commerce hours before its then-director general John Longworth was suspended earlier this year for making pro-Brexit comments. Awarded: CBE

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