One of the North East’s most senior political figures is to be made a Lord.
Sir Ian Wrigglesworth was among 30 names unveiled yesterday as the Government revealed the latest working peers to join the House of Lords.
The Liberal Democrat was last year appointed party Treasurer, and has only recently stepped down as chairman of the Port of Tyne.
Sir Ian said after working on everything from the Northern Development Company to being elected as a Teesside MP, he now felt “ready for a fifth career”.
And while he does not have a formal title yet, the man who set up property firm UK Land Estates said it is almost certain it will reflect his Teesside links.
As well as championing the North, he said he wanted to make the best use of his business experience.
Sir Ian, a former chairman of the Baltic gallery, said: “I had to keep this a secret for a very long time, I’m glad it’s finally public knowledge, and my family and friends are now delighted at the news. But I look forward now to getting on with the job of standing up for the North East interests.
“I haven’t got a particular role now but I want to use my background in business. I have resisted going to the Lords previously, I just had so much happening here, starting UK Land Estates in 1995, a very time consuming job, then on a few other boards, the Port and so on, meant I was tremendously busy and couldn’t really devote any time to politics but those have been dropped now and I have more time for the political arena.
“I have learnt a great deal from 30 years working on regional bodies such as the Northern Development Company, I want to contribute more. But also use my banking background as well”
Asked if he had chosen a formal title yet, he said: “There’s still a lot to decide but I am immensely proud of my links to Teesside and I think I would like to reflect that.”
His appointment was welcomed by former Newcastle Council leader Lord Shipley.
The Lib Dem peer said: “I am delighted that Ian will be joining us in the House of Lords shortly. It will be marvellous to have him on the Lib Dem benches to contribute his knowledge and expertise. It will also be good to have another voice bringing experience to the House from the North East.”
Major donors to each of the three big political parties were included on a list of 30 new peers appointed to the House of Lords today.
The working peers, nominated by the party leaders and cleared by independent House of Lords Appointments Commission, included JCB boss Sir Anthony Bamford, whose family and firm have given £2.5m to the Conservatives in recent years, Scottish businessman Sir William Haughey, who has given £1.3m to Labour and Domino’s Pizza entrepreneur Rumi Verjee, who has given more than £800,000 to the Liberal Democrats.
The list includes 14 Conservatives, 10 Liberal Democrats and five Labour nominees, as well as the first Green to be appointed a peer - London Assembly member and former deputy mayor Jenny Jones, who was selected for nomination by a ballot of party members.
Yesterday’s appointments restore the Conservatives’ position as the largest party in the House of Lords by a single seat, with 222 peers to Labour’s 221 and the Liberal Democrats’ 99.
The total number of members of the Upper House - already criticised for being overcrowded - swells to 785, compared to 650 MPs in the Commons.