The Labour Party has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of “cronyism” after a wealthy Indian-origin jewellery tycoon, who has donated more than £300,000 to the Conservatives, was made a member of the House of Lords on Friday.
Ranbir Singh Suri, dubbed the ‘King of Bling’, is founder of Oceanic Jewellers, a Soho-based jewellery wholesaler supplying clients around the world.
Mr Suri is said to have personally donated nearly £130,000 to the Conservative Party and a further £183,000 through his company and is one of 12 Tory supporters out of 22 who have been made life peers.
Labour party officials say that David Cameron is “stuffing the House of Lords with yet more of his donors and cronies”.
Paul Flynn, Labour member of the public administration select committee, told the Daily Mail: “Our legislature is being prostituted; jobs are being given out to the highest donors.
Mr Suri, who has been a Tory supporter for more than three decades, is said to have once described Prime Minister David Cameron as “delightful” and a “good leader”.
Conservatives defended Lord Suri – who was estimated to be worth £40 million by the Sunday Times several years ago – as an “upstanding” member of the British Sikh community as well as being a magistrate for more than a decade.
Suri is a founding member of the British Asian Conservative Link which encourages British Asian participation in British politics.
He is also a member of the Renaissance Forum, which gives people who have contributed more than £10,000 to the Conservative Party the chance of an audience with speakers such as George Osborne, William Hague and Eric Pickles.
Suri is the ninth person of South Asian descent to be made a life peer since the election of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in 2010, after Dolar Popat (Baron Popat), Raj Loomba (Baron Loomba), Tariq Ahmam (Baron Ahmad), Qurban Hussain (Baron Hussain), Gulam Noon (Baron Noon), Indarjit Singh (Baron Singh) Zahida Manzoor (Baroness Manzoor) and Rumi Verjee (Baron Verjee).
The 22 new peers announced on Friday – others include The Apprentice star and businesswoman Karen Brady and former Marks and Spencer chairman Stuart Rose – boosts the total number of peers to a staggering 850, the highest level since the system of hereditary peerages was scrapped in 1999.
Insiders say that the Lord’s is so overcrowded, only two-thirds of its members can enter the chamber at any given time.
According to reports, the size of Britain’s upper house of parliament is second only to the Chinese National People’s Congress and costs the taxpayer more than £21 million to maintain.
Today’s list includes six Lib Dem peers and three Labour peers, including a former Eastenders actor.