THE former MP for Barrow has been awarded a peerage.

It was reported last month that John Woodcock, who represented the Barrow and Furness constituency between 2010 and 2019 - first for Labour, then during his final year in the role as an independent MP - would enter the House of Lords.

On Friday, this was made official when it was announced that the Queen had conferred the ex-MP for Furness with the state honour.

Responding to the news, Mr Woodcock confirmed that he would retain his role as counter terrorism envoy for the Government alongside his new role in the Lords.

He said: “It is a huge honour to be put forward to become a peer by Her Majesty the Queen and I am looking forward to serving my country from the House of Lords.

“I have agreed with the Prime Minister that I will continue my work as the UK’s special envoy on countering violent extremism as a non-aligned member of the upper house, and I am relishing the chance to speak up once again for the causes I championed as an MP and for the community we love.”

He added: “Also, I am delighted to discover that my friend [former MP for Workington] Sue Hayman will be joining me in the Lords. She will be another strong voice for the area.”

His successor, the Conservative MP for Barrow, Simon Fell congratulated Mr Woodcock upon hearing the news.

Mr Fell said: "I'm glad for him.

"It's an important job he'll be doing from the Lords and, more importantly, we have another voice arguing for Furness in Westminster."

The Furness Labour Party did not respond to a comment request by the time of publication.

This year's list of nominees has been widely condemned for alleged cronyism, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson awarded peerages to Tory Party donors and former Labour MPs who urged constituents to vote Conservative at the December general election. Dissenting Brexiteers formerly within Labour's ranks, like ex-Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey, were also rewarded in this year's list.

Mr Johnson has come under additional criticism for handing a peerage to his brother, Conservative MP, Jo Johnson, and supportive newspaper owner, Evgeny Lebedev.

The House of Lords is now the largest legislative chamber in the world, after China's National People's Congress.

Despite the Prime Minister's promise to slash the house's number of occupants - having once denounced the 'disgusting behind-the-scenes schmoozing' he said underpinned the peerage process - the chamber has now swelled to accommodate 830 members.

Each peer can claim a maximum daily spend of £323.

The Lords is also the only legislature in the world among countries considered parliamentary democracies - with Iran's chamber being the other sometimes included in the category - in which unelected clerics sit.

Commenting on the 36 new appointments yesterday, Darren Hughes, CEO of UK democratic renewal campaign group the Electoral Reform Society, said: “Based on the average claim of a peer, the 36 new peers are likely to cost £1.1m a year in expenses from the taxpayer.

“By appointing a host of ex-MPs, party loyalists and his own brother, the PM is inviting total derision. That he can get away with it shows what a private member’s club this house is.

“The Lords was already the largest second chamber in the world. There are now over 800 unelected peers, voting on our laws for life.

"Is packing the Lords with party loyalists really a priority as a pandemic rages across the world? This move is an absolute insult to voters. This is making a mockery of democracy.

"We need to see it scrapped."