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Lord Strathclyde has resigned as Leader of the House of Lords, ending a 25-year career on the front bench.
In his resignation letter to David Cameron, Lord Strathclyde wrote that “when I was invited to join the government by Margaret Thatcher in 1988, I never believed it was a career for life. I didn’t expect it would consume me for as long as it has or that I would one day lead the Lords and sit in a Cabinet.”
“The Lords is an extraordinary and vigorous place, but recently I’ve been considering a change of direction,” he continued. “I started my working life in the private sector and at some stage always hoped to return, I would now like to do so. While I have the highest respect for the privilege and duty of public service, I do not see a political career as the cap of everything and would like, while there is still time, to take up other threads of my life and other interests.”
Lord Strathclyde has been the Tory leader in the House of Lords since 1998 when his predecessor, Viscount Cranborne, was sacked for entering into secret negotiations with the Labour government over their proposals to expel the hereditary peers. When the Tories entered into a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, Lord Strathclyde retained the leadership and received the sinecure office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in order to let him sit in the Cabinet.
Lord Strathclyde’s time in government has not been particularly easy. The Lords have defeated the government on more than 50 occasions since 2010, and the House’s burgeoning size has led to frayed tempers. Thanks to an influx of newly-created peers when the coalition took power, there are now 775 members of the House of Lords, putting its longstanding tradition of self-regulation under increasing strain.
To thank Lord Strathclyde for his lengthy service, Cameron has asked the Queen to appoint the peer to the Order of the Companions of Honour. The same honor was given to Sir George Young, Lord Strathclyde’s counterpart in the Commons, after he briefly stepped down from government last year.
Downing Street also announced that Lord Hill of Oareford will succeed Lord Strathclyde as Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Lord Hill is a relative newcomer to the Lords, having only entered the chamber in May 2010. Since then, he has served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools in the Department of Education. According to reports in the British media, Lord Hill tried to resign during last summer’s reshuffle, but Cameron was not paying attention and simply told him to “keep up the good work”!
Image Courtesy : UK Parliament