DAVID Cameron is facing growing criticism over the expected imminent appointment of a raft of new Conservative peers as a row intensified last night over reports that Glaswegian lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone is to be handed a seat in the House of Lords.
Ms Mone was said to have received news of her seat in the Lords from the Prime Minister himself, who reportedly told her she would be one of his party’s new appointees to the second chamber at Westminster.
It would be great news if Michelle was appointedAlex Johnstone MSP
The millionaire owner of Ultimo was a leading figure in the anti-independence campaign and has said that one of her “most rewarding” achievements was the help she was able to give Mr Cameron in the run-up to the referendum.
Downing Street refused to deny that Ms Mone would be made a peer as a nominee of the Prime Minister, who is under pressure to back reform of the second chamber in the wake of the resignation of Lord Sewel following drug and prostitution allegations.
Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats have criticised Cameron over his plan to create a significant number of new Conservative peers, in a move which will further swell the ranks of the 790-strong unelected chamber. Mone, who is now based south of the Border, has not commented on reports that she will be among the appointments that are expected to be announced in the next few weeks.
The 43-year-old, who is said to be worth £20 million and was awarded an OBE for her contribution to business in 2010, has supported the Conservatives at recent elections.
A source was reported to have said: “Michelle is thrilled and delighted. She proves strong, independent women in business have a vital role to play in our economy. And she will bring something new to the stuffy Lords. It needs shaking up.”
However, the move was criticised by opposition politicians as the Conservatives were attacked for the UK government’s handling of the row over House of Lords reform.
SNP MP Stewart McDonald, who represents the Glasgow South constituency said: “Yes, Michelle Mone is a successful entrepreneur, but to become a national legislator overnight without the fuss of an election is obscene.”’
However, Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said Mone sitting in the Lords would be a welcome move as he accused critics of the reported appointment of “inverse snobbery”.
He said: “This is typical misogynistic and inverse snobbery from the intellectual left in this country. It would be great news if Michelle Mone was appointed to the Lords as she is someone from a working-class background who has achieved a huge amount in by creating jobs.”
Labour MSP Richard Baker refused to criticise Mone in light of the reports but attacked Cameron’s response to the controversy over the Lords appointees.
He said: “The Tories seem to be refusing to acknowledge that reform of the House of Lords is desperately needed and instead seem determined to just appoint more and more Tory peers.
“There’s clearly a democratic deficit in the House of Lords and just appointing new peers for political advantage shows how out of touch the Tory government is.”
The row came after Lord Bew, the chairman of the Committee on standards in public life, said peers aged 75 or over should lose their daily attendance allowance.