Some readers have already begun to comment, in the thread to the preceding post, on the ministerial reshuffle as it affects the House of Lords.
There will now be three peers in the Cabinet, two of them departmental ministers. The most senior is Lord Mandelson, who now heads a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which brings together the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. He has also been given the rarely used title of First Secretary of State as well as the post (previously held by Baroness Royall) of Lord President of the Council. Baroness Royall remains as Leader of the House but with the formal position of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The new addition to the Cabinet from the Lords is Lord Adonis, who moves up from being Minister of State to Secretary of State for Transport.
In addition, Lord Malloch-Brown (Foreign Office Minister) and Lord Drayson (Minister of State for Science and Innovation in the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) will continue to attend Cabinet, and Baroness Scotland (Attorney General) will attend as necessary.
Glenys Kinnock is to join the House, having been appointed Minister for Europe. So too, I gather, is the new business champion, Sir Alan Sugar.
It is unusual but far from unknown to have three peers in the Cabinet – it variously happened under Margaret Thatcher and occurred briefly under Tony Blair’s premiership – but it is rare to have a departmental minister quite as senior as Lord Mandelson. The last at that level of seniority was arguably Lord Carrington as Foreign Secretary (1979-82). In terms of positions and seniority, though, Lord Mandelson is perhaps more akin to Michael Heseltine under John Major’s premiership.
We await news of any further changes to the ministerial ranks in the Lords.