It was rather controversial a couple of years ago when Digby Jones took a peerage and became a Labour minister – but did not join the Labour party. He did eventually take the Labour whip.
Now it transpires that Lord (Stephen) Green, former chairman of HSBC, has made a similar decision to remain above the political fray, at least to an extent.
Last week Green was forced to deny a Telegraph story that he would not promote the defence industry because of his religious beliefs.
The story never made total sense given that HSBC are bankers to BAE Systems. But Green is an ordained priest who likes to write highly philosophical books about God and Mammon.
My understanding is that Lord Green had in the autumn agonised over whether to take the Tory whip in the House of Lords.
Strikingly, when he took his seat in late November he was introduced by one Tory peer, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach , but also a Labour peer, Lady Warwick of Undercliffe. “That is not abnormal in the Lords but it doesn’t happen every often,” said one source. “You normally get introduced by two members of the same party.”
The new trade minister did in the end – after much thought – agree to vote in line with the Conservative party. But he not taking up membership of the Tories nor the Lib Dems.