While Boris Johnson’s peerage nominations have rightly attracted much media attention (Evgeny Lebedev, Jo Johnson and Ian Botham among 36 peerage nominations, 31 July), the much more significant appointment of cabinet secretary is currently in progress behind the scenes. This person sits at the apex of our public service. The job has national responsibilities well beyond serving the needs of the prime minister. The job description, person specification and appointment process have regrettably not been made public. It is therefore reasonable to seek assurances from Johnson that the appointment will be made strictly on merit with advice from a qualified external source; that candidates’ personal views on current policy issues will be neither sought nor taken into account; and that no political adviser will have any involvement, formal or informal, in the decision.
• A couple of years ago, when I was an MP, I had a 16-year-old on work experience with me. I took him to the House of Lords to watch a debate and he was very curious as to how exactly people get in. I explained to him as best I could that generally, with a few notable exceptions, people were given peerages for previous work and experience that was relevant to the work of the second chamber.
However, the more questions he asked me the more I realised just how opaque the procedure was. Who approves these people? What checks and balances are there? How can we be sure that the system is free from corruption? I’m sure that on that day I learned more from him than he did from me.
However, having seen the current crop of new entrants to the House of Lords, I am glad I had that conversation two years ago and not now. I really would struggle to explain the merits or otherwise of the prime minister promoting the various friends, family members and supporters who have done him favours. One thing that this list tells us is that it’s time to end this charade now and reform the House of Lords. It’s long overdue.
Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton, 2014-19
• Boris Johnson deserves the opprobrium he is receiving for the honours he is dishing out. Cronyism is a polite term for Johnson’s shameless abuse of the honours system. I think it should be mandatory for prime ministers to explain why honours are being recommended for particular individuals. It would be fun listening to Johnson tying himself in knots attempting to justify peerages for the likes of Evgeny Lebedev and Claire Fox under cross-examination from Keir Starmer.
• Your article on the latest peerages just confirms what I have started to understand about the way the government recognises achievement and service. I submitted an application to nominate a relative in 2015. The government states that it can take up to 18 months to consider, “sometimes longer”. On inquiring months after the initial submission, I was informed that my application had been lost. It was then found, but was apparently with the wrong department. Five years later I still email every six months to ask if a decision has been made, but the Cabinet Office has stopped replying.
• Dilyn must be very miffed at missing out on a peerage.
West Wickham, Kent