POLITICS

David Cameron Defends Giving Knighthoods To People He Just Fired

16/07/2014 13:26 BST | Updated 16/07/2014 16:59 BST
PA/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.

Getting kicked out of the cabinet by the prime minister must hurt. But the landing is probably a bit softer if you are offered a knightood or another honour by way of compensation.

According to the Evening Standard, David Cameron will hand fired, or retired, ministers Alan Duncan, Hugh Robertson, Oliver Heald and veteran Ken Clarke honours to make life outside Whitehall a bit easier. The prime minister performed the same trick in 2012, when he recommend four male ministers he had just sacked for knighthoods.

Cameron was challenged in the Commons on Wednesday over the move by Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds, who asked why he had now "given more knighthoods to the men he has sacked than he has given cabinet jobs to women".

The prime minister dismissed the attack and said it was "always interesting to take a lecture from a party that gave a knighthood to Fred Goodwin". The former head of RBS had his knighthood taken away following the spectacular near-collapse of the bank.

He added: "I make no apology for saying that I think in public life we should recognise public service, people who have worked hard, people who have contributed to our nation, contributed to our government. I think that is a good thing to do."

ken clarke

Ken Clarke is reported to be in line for a top honour

The extensive changes to his Cabinet included shifting key ally Michael Gove from Education Secretary to chief whip - ordering him to act as "minister for TV".

Cameron defended the decision during clashes with Ed Miliband in the Commons, saying Gove was the "very best candidate" for the job and praised his record in the Department for Education.

A series of established figures were culled in favour of women, with the highest-profile casualty Owen Paterson losing his environment brief to Liz Truss.

Treasury minister Nicky Morgan, 41, who replaces Gove, and new Environment Secretary Truss, 38, are the first mothers in the Cabinet since the resignation of Maria Miller in April.

Cameron named former public relations executive Lord Hill as his nominee for European Commissioner, giving his job as Leader of the Lords to Lady Stowell of Beeston - the peer who guided gay marriage legislation through the Upper House.

There was a backlash when it emerged that Lady Stowell was not due to inherit her predecessor's status as a full Cabinet member and would not be paid as much either - but it later emerged the Conservative Party would top up her salary.

Challenged about this, Cameron told MPs: "I am happy to confirm that she will do the same job as her predecessor, will sit at the same place around the Cabinet table as her predecessor and receive the same amount of money."

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