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!