House of Lords Appointments Commission

House of Lords Appointment Commission

Main navigation

Four New Non-Party-Political Peers and Commission Report 2013-15

Four new non-party-political peers recommended by the independent House of Lords Appointments Commission were announced today.

 The new peers are:

They will sit on the crossbenches.

The Commission also published its ninth report  detailing its work from 2013-2015.

Notes to Editors 

  1. Media enquiries about the work of the House of Lords Appointments Commission should go to Maggie O'Boyle on 07880 740627.  Further information on the Appointments Commission can be obtained from:
  2. John Bird is a social entrepreneur.  In 1991 he launched the Big Issue, the street newspaper written by professional journalists and sold by people who are homeless.  Starting as a local venture in London, it has since expanded to other cities in the UK and internationally.  In 1995 he launched the Big Issue Foundation, a charity that supports Big Issue vendors in dealing with the issues that have caused their homelessness or have developed as a result of their living on the street.  He continues to serve on the Board of Directors for the Big Issue.  In 2001 he launched Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the Big Issue, which provides finance to help develop social enterprises and charities.  He has first-hand experience of the issues facing homeless people, having become homeless at the age of five, resided in an orphanage as a child, spent time in detention as a teenager, and having himself slept rough in London.
  3. Julia King has spent her working life in Engineering and Academia, in a range of highly influential roles.  After 16 years as an academic researcher and university lecturer at Cambridge and Nottingham universities, she joined Rolls-Royce plc in 1994.  At Rolls-Royce she held a number of senior executive appointments, including Director of Advanced Engineering for the Industrial Power Group, Managing Director of the Fan Systems Business, and Engineering Director for the Marine Business.  In 2002 she became Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics, and in 2004 she returned to academia as Principal of the Engineering Faculty at Imperial College, London.  She has been Vice-Chancellor of Aston University since 2006.  Professor King has been involved, as Chair or delegate, in numerous advisory groups, boards and committees in the fields of engineering, technology, energy and education (including the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Committee on Climate Change and the Cabinet Office National Security Forum).  She has lectured and published widely; and has won numerous awards and distinctions for her work.
  4. Robert Mair is a world-renowned civil engineer with extensive practical and academic experience.  A Fellow of both the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, he is Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cambridge University and was Master of Jesus College from 2001 to 2011.  Earlier in his career, he spent almost 30 years in industry, founding the Geotechnical Consulting Group, an international consulting company based in London.  At Cambridge he heads a major research group and recently established the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, funded by both the Government and Industry, which is pioneering the innovative use of the latest sensor technology in construction.  Specialising principally in tunnels and underground construction, he is known for the introduction of new techniques and has acted as consultant on many high profile engineering projects all over the world.  In the UK he was closely involved with the design and construction of the Jubilee Line Extension for London Underground and with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (now HS1).  He is a member of the Engineering Expert Panel on Crossrail, currently Europe's largest civil engineering project.  In 2012 he chaired the joint Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering report on shale gas extraction, commissioned by the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser.  He is Chairman of the Science Advisory Council of the Department for Transport, Vice-President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and engineering adviser to the Laing O'Rourke Group.
  5. Mary Watkins is a Professor of Nursing, who is currently Emeritus Professor of Healthcare Leadership at Plymouth University.  She qualified as a general nurse in 1976, a mental health nurse in 1979, and was a Nightingale Scholar in 1985.  She has worked in community, in-patient mental health and acute settings, providing non-emergency and emergency healthcare.  She was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Work at Plymouth in 2003, Pro Vice-Chancellor Health in 2005 and Deputy Vice-Chancellor in January 2007.  She has published widely in the field of nursing education and leadership, and was inaugural editor of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.  She has consistently been invited to represent the views of the nursing profession on a range of Department of Health working parties and is Nurse Adviser to the BUPA Medical Advisory Panel.  Her interests and activities in the South West of England extend beyond nursing and higher education to include involvement in secondary education, mental health charities, social enterprise and housing.
  6. The House of Lords Appointments Commission is an independent non-statutory advisory body set up by the Prime Minister to make recommendations for non-party-political peerages.  The Commission's remit is to find people of distinction who will bring authority and expertise to the House of Lords.  The Commission recommends individuals on merit and their ability to contribute effectively to the work of the House.  The House of Lords Appointments Commission has now recommended a total of 67 non-party-political peerages (since 2000) to the Prime Minister, drawn from well over 5,000 nominations.  The Commission last recommended non-party-political peers in February 2013.  The Prime Minister has asked the Commission to nominate a maximum of two individuals per year.  The Commission also vets nominations for life peers, including those nominated by the UK political parties, for propriety.
  7. The membership of the House of Lords Appointments Commission comprises four independent members: Lord (Ajay) Kakkar (Chairman), Lord (Colin) Low, Sir Malcolm Ross and Gillian Peele and three members nominated by each of the three main political parties: Lord Hart of Chilton (Labour), Rt Hon Lord Howard of Lympne QC (Conservative) and Baroness Scott of Needham Market (Liberal Democrat).  The Chairman and independent members were selected through open competition.