Olympics CEO joins House of Lords with a ministerial position
Author: Zoe Stavri
Published on Sep 05, 2012
After the Paralympics end on Sunday, the chief executive of LOCOG, the Games organising committee, will be at a loose end. The good news for Paul Deighton is that he already has a new job lined up: he will become Commercial Secretary to the Treasury.
In order to undertake his new ministerial role, Deighton must be a member of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Since there aren’t any elections going on at present, the first option is out for Deighton, so he will be granted a peerage instead.
It’s hard to say whether Deighton would stand a chance in an election. His involvement with the Olympics will have boosted his popularity, and it is likely that this association is what drew the government to him.
However, this is a moot point, as Deighton will not be elected. Nobody ever voted for Paul Deighton, yet he will end up in government nonetheless. The power to appoint peers in order to grant ministerial roles is used regularly by governments to bring in who they want, when they want, regardless of the will of the people. Anyone the government want- no matter how unelectable- can be brought in at any time.
Like others before him, Deighton will retain his peerage regardless of how long he remains a minister. Some, such as Digby Jones, Baron of Birmingham, served as ministers for only a year, yet will continue to claim thousands of pounds in attendance allowance despite doing little in the House of Lords, costing the taxpayer £4,797 per vote in 2011.
This does not feel like a particularly fair state of affairs. The power we wield tends to be through the ballot boxes, yet decision makers can be brought in without ever having to be elected. The House of Lords needs a radical overhaul. It must no longer be a loophole for the government to sneak through new ministers. Last year, when we presented evidence to the joint committee’s consultation, we recommended that there should be no ministers in the second chamber to ensure that there is a clearer distinction between its purpose and the House of Commons.
How can we change this system without reforming the Lords itself?