THERE are soon set to be 796 members of the House of Lords.

The numbers are to be boosted by the extra 22 life peers nominated last week including football boss Karren Brady, former Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose and former EastEnders actor Michael Cashman.

There are nominations for 12 new Tory peers, three new Labour peers, six Liberal Democrats and one DUP member of the Lords.

That's 796 unelected members who, if not a salaried government minister or in salaried posts such as the Lord Speaker or chairmen of committees, may claim a flat rate attendance allowance of £150 or £300 for each sitting day they attend the House.

The largest number of peers since hereditary peers were excluded from sitting.

Most of those receiving life peerages are being rewarded for loyalty to a political party or, critics say, some are being rewarded for large donations to a political party.

Conservative donor Ranbir Singh Suri is among those being lined up for a seat in the Lords. The jewellery tycoon and his company are reported to have given more than £300,000 to the party since 2006.

Another Conservative donor, Michael Farmer, who has given almost £6m to the party since 2001, is also set to sit in the Lords.

Two of the former Lib Dem council leaders nominated by Nick Clegg, Barbara Janke and Paul Scriven, have made smaller donations to their party.

A Conservative spokesman hit back at criticism of the elevation of its two party donors to peerages and said: "Michael Farmer and Ranbir Suri are worthy recipients of peerages - Michael has been involved in numerous charities and a successful academy school and Ranbir is a leading member of the British Sikh community and former magistrate."

I'm sure their activities in the community make them worthy citizens. I'm also sure I don't want to pay those worthy citizens allowances when I have absolutely no say in them getting their peerages.

Those at the heart of government argue we need a second chamber to deal with the volume of work our government generates.

I argue that any second chamber which is appointed by government is obviously an anachronism in any modern democracy.

It is obviously open to question about such matters as major donors to political parties getting the kudos and allowances of life peerages, because it is unelected.

And it will remain so until it does become a properly-elected chamber, where privilege plays no part in its make-up.

And do we need a second chamber which is larger than the 650 member House of Commons - especially now that there is devolution in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland?

We are constantly being told this country must have permanent austerity, that public services must be slashed year after year.

Yet, while properly-elected council budgets are decimated, the bloating of the Westminster club goes on and on.

The public recognises hypocrisy when it sees it.

It's the old "don't do as I do, do as I say" argument from the government.

And it just doesn't wash.

AMID the events marking the centenary of the British declaration of war in 1914, I find the montages created by our digital editor Martin Wade very moving.

He has been researching where images were taken in 1914, and super-imposed them on the modern day locations.

The image of the 1st Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment marching down Stow Hill in 1914, super-imposed on today's Stow Hill, has a ghost-like quality.

It's a timely reminder of the huge cost of that war to our city, something of which the men marching down that hill could have had no inkling.

And it is a timely reminder of the cost of any war, because we can all say with a heavy heart it was not the "war to end all wars" that people in 1918 hoped.

For this generation, the cost of Afghanistan and Iraq can never be far from our thoughts.