LABOUR have been mocked after a member of Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet said that the party only has around 10 MPs capable of being government ministers.

The comment in The Times was backed up by another Labour source, who said that the party would need to appoint members of the House of Lords to top government positions in order to allow MPs that “aren’t up to” the task to learn something.

The SNP said the admission shows Labour wouldn’t “even trust their own MPs to take up cushy Whitehall jobs”.

The comments from the unnamed shadow cabinet minister came amid reports that Starmer was planning to stack the House of Lords with “dozens” of new Labour peers as one of his first moves after winning a General Election.

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According to the House of Lords’ website, there are 263 Tory peers, 183 crossbench, 84 LibDem, and 174 Labour peers. Starmer’s party is reportedly concerned that the Tory plurality could make it difficult to quickly bring in new laws.

But rather than doing as Starmer has repeatedly pledged and abolishing the Lords – which would solve any issues Labour has with its makeup – reports say the party is instead planning to try to stack it in its favour.

Doing so would also increase the pool from which an incoming Labour government could draw new ministers and cabinet secretaries – amid reports that some senior Labour figures have “long-standing concerns about the number of MPs with the experience or talent to occupy government roles”.

The National: The House of Lords, London (PA)

There are 21 Cabinet positions and 95 ministers in total can sit in the House of Commons, according to the Institute for Government.

One MP on Labour’s frontbench told The Times: “Over the past two elections there have perhaps been 10 Labour MPs who meet the standards you would expect of ministerial office. There are maybe two or three in the 2019 intake. Keir will need to make up that shortfall of experience and quality somehow.”

And another Labour source added: “It’s ironic they talk so much about abolishing the Lords because we’re going to need to appoint a dozen peers on day one to do big junior ministerial jobs that the MPs shadowing them aren’t up to doing.”

The comments were acknowledged by the political parties north of the Border, with the Scottish Greens saying the insiders were “certainly right about one thing, there is a real dearth of talent on the Labour benches”.

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A spokesperson for the party went on: “But with all of the U-turns and broken promises, it's hard to know what they mean when they talk about quality.

"Do they want a cabinet full of unprincipled empty suits who will backtrack and run from their pledges just as their leadership has?”

Starmer’s official spokesperson insisted on Wednesday that Labour were still committed to abolishing the Lords, and that any party appointees to the upper chamber would be expected to support that, and other, Labour policies.

But the plan to appoint “at least” a few dozen new peers has been widely read as a U-turn on Starmer’s pledge to abolish the Lords within his first term in prime minister, which he made just six months ago.

The SNP’s Cabinet Office spokesperson at Westminster, Kirsty Blackman MP said: “If Labour can't even trust their own MPs to take up cushy Whitehall jobs, why should voters in Scotland trust them with their future?

“Regardless of who might sit in the cabinet of a Keir Starmer government the fact is they’ll be terrible for Scotland.”

The Times reported a third Labour source had dismissed the concerns about the lack of talent within the party.

“We’re confident that if elected we would have high quality ministers in both houses of parliament,” they said.