Wednesday 24 October 2007
Lord's Chief Whip
The person popularly known as the Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords has the title of "Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms" . The current Chief Whip is Lord Grocott, formerly known as Bruce Grocott - who was the MP for Lichfield and Tamworth (Oct 1974-1979); The Wrekin (1987-97), and after boundary changes, for Telford (1997-2001). Whilst an MP he served as Minister for Planning and Local Government (1975-76), Minister of Agriculture (1976-78);Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Deputy Campaigns Co-ordinator (1987-92) He was an Opposition Frontbench Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in 1992-93; He was PPS to Tony Blair from 1994 to 2001.
In 2001 he stood down from the Commons and was made a Peer. He took over as Chief Whip in 2002. A whip in the House of Lords is in a very different situation from whips in any of the other Houses of Parliament and Congress - he has limited rewards to encourage his members to attend and vote - many have already held ministerial posts and have no desire to return to office. He cannot threaten them with losing their seat - by backing another contender for the party's nomination in a constituency, or persuading the local party to deselect the 'offender' - since Peers have a seat for life!