Reshuffle knighthoods trigger MPs' anger

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Cameron's new Cabinet meets to discuss the future of the coalition
Cameron's new Cabinet meets to discuss the future of the coalition

MPs are likely to criticise David Cameron's decision to bypass a scrutinising committee when he gave out unexpected honours during this week's reshuffle.

Four of the ministers sacked from the government by the prime minister – Lib Dem Nick Harvey and Tories Edward Garnier, Gerald Howarth and Jim Paice - were awarded knighthoods this week.

The move appears to have been made outside the normal distribution of political honours, which are strictly apportioned by political party.

It also skipped a new committee set up this spring to rubber-stamp political honours.


MPs have reacted angrily. Greg Mulholland, a Lib Dem member of the public administration select committee (Pasc), told the Telegraph newspaper: "This was a quite extraordinary ill-judged decision and an abuse of the honours system.

"The Pasc clearly said it was important to restore the system to restore public confidence and this clearly flies in the face of that."

Last month a Pasc report called for the "mysterious process" by which honours are awarded to be made clearer.

It said more ordinary people should be the recipients of honours, as opposed to the 'usual suspects' of civil servants, celebrities and sporting heroes.

Committee chair Bernard Jenkin has said he will look at Cameron's decision to award honours to departing ministers.

Labour, which called for more honours for Olympic and Paralympian athletes, attacked Cameron's approach.

"It is shameless to see David Cameron dishing out honours to failed ministers like this while refusing to honour our Olympic and Paralympic heroes and heroines," Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, the former culture secretary, said.

"He also needs to explain why he's giving knighthoods to sacked male ministers while ignoring more senior women – another example of the prime minister's women problem."

Cameron faced accusations of ageism after it was reported he fired former environment secretary Caroline Spelman because she is 54. Downing Street pointed out her replacement, Owen Paterson, is 56.

The prime minister's handling of the reshuffle continues to attract negative coverage in today's newspapers, however.

Ex-Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan's dismissal may have occurred while Cameron drank from a glass of wine, although the Times' report has been dismissed as "nonsense" by No 10.

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