Diljit Rana and Sir Kumar Bhattacharyya have joined the roster of NRIs appointed to the House of Lords by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Rana, founder of Andras House, Belfast's leading property development company and first Honorary Indian Consul in Northern Ireland, is an independent. Bhattacharyya, a professor of manufacturing at the University of Warwick, belongs to Labour.
Professor Bhattacharyya, who was earlier made a Commander of the British Empire, advises government and industry on policy-making and strategy. Combining academic rigour with industrial flair, his goal is to spur innovations that are practical and actionable. Instead of endless 'best practice' theories, Bhattacharya explains how working methods need to match both technology and ambition.
Of the 46 new peers, 23 belong to Labour, eight to Liberal Democrat and only five to Conservative. A further seven peers will sit as Crossbenchers -- Independents -- and the Prime Minister has made two personal, non-political nominations: Sir Edward George, former governor of the Bank of England, and Sir John Kerr, former head of the diplomatic service.
Sir Edward, along with the Dixons founder Sir Stanley Kalms and a clutch of the prime minister's most trusted advisers, has also been made a life peer.
Paul Drayson, founder of PowderJect Pharmaceuticals, which donated ₤100,000 to Labour, will join Philip Goud, Blair's favourite pollster, and Margaret McDonagh, a former party general secretary, on the red benches.
With this the membership of the House of Lords increases to 710. At present the Tories have 212 peers; Labour 205; Liberal Democrats 72 and Crossbenchers 189. The government has struggled to get its legislation through the Lords, where concerted rebellions by Tory, Liberal Democratic and Crossbench peers coupled with poor attendance by some Labour working peers have embarrassed Blair.
The Labour appointees include three veteran former members of parliament John Maxton, Peter Snape and Ted Rowlands -- who will be expected to lend weight to the Government operation in the Upper House.
The Tory list includes former party treasurer Sir Stanley, in addition to Leonard Steinberg, the founder of Stanley Leisure; Irvine Laidlaw, the Scottish tycoon; Greville Howard, a friend of Duncan Smith, former Tory leader. All are leading donors to the party.