Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has played down speculation he has been nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson.

According to The Times, the former PM's resignation honours list has been finalised and the Conservative Mayor's name is among those put forward.

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Darlington and Stockton Times:

MPs including former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries and two former Number 10 aides also made the list, according to the newspaper.

But responding to the reports, Mr Houchen said it was "news to me" and his focus "is on doing what I can to help the people of Teesside Darlington and Hartlepool".

He also reiterated his intention to stand for reelection as Tees Valley Mayor at the next election in 2024.

Mr Houchen said: “This is news to me, as my focus - as ever - is on doing what I can to help the people of Teesside Darlington and Hartlepool and I look forward to standing for re-election as Tees Valley Mayor in 2024.”

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It comes as Mr Johnson asked the MPs he has nominated for peerages to delay taking them up so they do not trigger by-elections.

The politicians are all understood to have agreed to put off heading to the Lords until the end of the current Parliament to spare Rishi Sunak the challenges.

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to be on Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list.

The Times suggested that so too are Cop26 President Alok Sharma, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and former minister Nigel Adams.

Sources close to Mr Johnson did not deny the report, which also said his former chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, deputy Ben Gascoigne and advisers Ross Kempsell and Charlotte Owen will get peerages.

Asked if he believes it is appropriate that service to a prime minister should be rewarded in this way, Mr Stride said it would not be right for him to “start opining on individual appointments”.

But he said he does think the House of Lords needs reform, highlighting that it has swelled to greater than the size of the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee.

He told Times Radio: “The House of Commons probably as a body generally would not be happy with the size of the House of Lords, the fact that… what is effectively an undemocratic body perhaps has a role in certain areas that it does.

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“I think there are few in the House of Commons who wouldn’t say that there should be change.”

But he said any prospect of a shake-up has been hindered by the fact MPs have “never been able to coalesce around a single solution”.

He added: “If your question is does the… House of Lords need reform? I think absolutely.

“Not least to the point you’re making: its size, which has now grown to, I think, over 800 members, which is larger than the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee.

“I do think there is scope for change, but it is one of those things that has been very difficult to get political consensus on.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Mr Houchen was elected in 2017. He is also chair of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, which drives economic growth and jobs and the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) - the first Mayoral Development Corporation outside London. 

The STDC area, now known as Teesworks, covers 4,500 acres of development land to the south of the Tees including the former SSI steelworks.

A major part of his mayoral campaign was the promise to bring Teesside International Airport back into public ownership, which was achieved in 2018 in a £40m deal with Peel Group.

Mr Houchen was re-elected for a second term in 2021.

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