UK Government

House of Lords Appointments Commission (National): House of Lords Appointments Commission – new non-party-political peers

Press Release   •   Oct 05, 2010 12:16 BST

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

The new peers are:

• Professor Peter Hennessy, an expert in contemporary British history and

• Professor Sheila Hollins, a psychiatrist whose work has focused on the mental and physical health of people with learning disabilities.

They will sit on the crossbenches.

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. Peter Hennessy is Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He has written a number of books including Never Again: Britain 1945-51, The Secret State, The Hidden Wiring: Unearthing the British Constitution, Cabinet and Whitehall. He won the Orwell Prize for political writing in 2007 for Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties. Prior to joining the Queen Mary and Westfield College in 1992, Professor Hennessy was a journalist for twenty years working for The Times as a leader writer and Whitehall correspondent, for the Financial Times as its lobby correspondent at Westminster and as a columnist on the Independent. He was also a regular presenter on the BBC Radio 4 Analysis programme. Professor Hennessy co-founded the Institute of Contemporary British History in 1986. He is also a Director and Trustee of The Tablet. 

3. Sheila Hollins is Professor in Psychiatry of Disability at St George’s, University of London. Her research has focussed on clinical and social aspects of the mental and physical health of people with learning disabilities, with a particular focus on bereavement, palliative care and sexual abuse. Since 2008 she has served as the Chair of the WHO Steering Group to develop a declaration and action plan on the health of children and young people with intellectual disabilities. She has served in a number of national advisory board roles, including as a Member of the Independent Inquiry into Access to Healthcare for People with Learning Disabilities between 2007- 08. Professor Hollins was the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists 2005-08. She practised as a Consultant Psychiatrist in SW London 1982-2006. In addition to her published research, she has also co-authored a book with her husband, Martin Hollins: You and Your Child with a Learning Disability 

4. The Appointments Commission is a 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 57 non-party-political peerages to the Prime Minister, drawn from well over 4,000 nominations. The Commission also vets nominations for life peers, including those nominated by the UK political parties, for propriety.

5. The membership of the House of Lords Appointments Commission comprises four independent members: Lord (Michael) Jay of Ewelme GCMG (Chairman), Baroness Jane Campbell, Professor Dame Joan Higgins and Dr John Low and three members nominated by each of the three main political parties: Rt Hon Baroness (Brenda) Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, Lord (Navnit) Dholakia, and Rt Hon Lord (Douglas) Hurd of Westwell. The Chairman and independent members were selected through open competition.


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