IT IS “not acceptable” that Foreign Secretary David Cameron will be able to avoid being grilled by MPs because of his position in the House of Lords, a senior SNP politician has said.

The former Tory prime minister is set to be ennobled to allow him to take on one of the four Great Offices of State - despite no longer being an MP.

The undemocratic nature of the appointment caused concern amongst campaigners and politicians after Cameron was surprisingly confirmed to be returning to Government on Monday.

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As Cameron will be a member of the Lords, after he is ennobled, rather than the House of Commons, he will not have to answer scheduled departmental questions from MPs.

He will be able to take departmental questions in the Lords chamber, and will still be accountable to MPs via Commons select committees as a Government minister.

But, it will be a junior official from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) who will face MPs in the Commons, not Cameron.

Campaigners said the appointment brings more urgency to calls for the Lords to be reformed and an elected second House to be established instead. The Lords now has almost 800 members, all unelected.

The National: Former prime minister David Cameron

And, many raised Cameron’s involvement at the centre of a major scandal during the pandemic - where it emerged he had privately lobbied ministers in a bid to secure emergency coronavirus loans for the failed firm Greensill Capital, where he took a role in 2018.

One campaign group dubbed Cameron’s Lords’ appointment as a “lobbyist's dream”.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s former Westminster group leader and the party's independence business ambassador, told The National Cameron’s appointment was not a normal way for democracy to operate.

He said: “It's not acceptable anytime, but my goodness we’re in the midst of a war in Ukraine, in the midst of what is an enormous conflict in the Middle East, that goodness knows what the consequences of this could be, and the principal officer of the government isn't available to meet with Members of Parliament who are sent by their constituents to represent them, and they cannot speak directly in the chamber with the Foreign Secretary with his words on the record.

“That is not right.”

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Blackford (below), an MP since 2015, said that the Parliament has to be able to function in a way that ministers can be questioned by elected representatives.

“That happens on a formal basis, but it happens informally as well because you're always bumping into people, you build relationships with people,” he added.

“He's not going to come to the chamber, he's not going to be answering questions - he's going to be sending junior ministers. It's not okay.”

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society said that the public will rightly be “baffled and confused” by Cameron’s appointment despite the fact he is no longer an MP. The former prime minister quit as an MP in 2016 when he left Number 10, claiming he wanted to “avoid being a distraction” on the backbenches.

The National: Ian Blackford

Hughes said: “While it is common for government departments to have a junior minister from the Lords to ensure representation in the upper chamber, it is unprecedented in modern times for a former Prime Minister to be handed a job-for-life in the upper house so they can immediately take up one of the great offices of state.

“There is also an irony that a Prime Minister who tried and failed to make the Lords an elected chamber is now sitting on its benches unelected.”

The lack of a “democratic process”, Hughes said, highlights an “outdated and unfit” system in Westminster.

“The Lords urgently needs to be scrapped and replaced with a smaller elected chamber, which will give it a sustainable democratic basis and ensure that the people of this country, not politicians, decide who sits in parliament,” he added.

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Graham Smith (below), CEO of the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, joined calls for reform of the Lords in the wake of Cameron’s appointment.

He told The National: “Cabinet ministers must come from the Commons, where they can be held accountable by our elected representatives.

“If Cameron wants to return to Cabinet he should seek election to Parliament, not be parachuted in by a Prime Minister desperate to shore up his unpopular government.

“This appointment joins a string of recent outrages that remind us of the urgent need to ditch the Lords in favour of an elected upper house.”

The National:

Tom Brake, from pressure group Unlock Democracy, pointed out that it has been over 40 years since a Foreign Secretary was not an MP - when Alec Douglas-Home was appointed in the 1970s.

"MPs, Parliament's elected officials, expect to be able to hold these post-holders to account and so do voters in General Elections,” he said.

“This line of accountability is now shattered. This appointment underlines yet again the need to reform the House of Lords and replace it with an elected and accountable chamber."

It comes as Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle told MPs that he had commissioned advice from parliamentary officials to ensure the Foreign Office’s work is scrutinised “effectively” with Cameron sitting in the Lords, particularly given the “gravity of the current international situation”.