Sir Bill Morris, the trade union leader who began his career in Birmingham, has called for reforms to the honours system as it was revealed he is to join the House of Lords.

 Lord Morris, as he will be known, lived in Handsworth after his family emigrated from Jamaica in in 1954.

 He become general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and one of the most prominent black figures in British public life.

 Downing Street finally released a long-delayed list of new life peers today.

 The 23 names include Lord Morris, who will sit on the Labour benches, and Conservative Sandip Verma, a businesswoman who contested Wolverhampton South West in the last election.

 But Black Country businessman Robert Edmiston, who had been nominated by the Tories, was absent after his candidacy was rejected by the House of Lords Appointment Commission.

 Four of Tony Blair's original nominations had already withdrawn their names amid the controversy over secret loans to the Labour Party.

 Mr Edmiston, who runs car importers IM Group in West Bromwich, has donated #250,000 to the Conservative Party and chairs the Midland Industrial Council, which has also donated six-figure sums to the Tories.

 It recently emerged he had also lent the Conservatives #2 million. The loan was subsequently converted into a grant.

 Last night a Conservative Party spokesman said: "His nomination appears to be in limbo. We have not withdrawn it."

 Mr Edmiston was overseas last night and unavailable for comment.

 Lord Morris said recent controversy had forced the Government to "go to the drawing board" on House of Lords reform.

 The new peer, who as leader of the TGWU was close to Tony Blair, added: "Some time within the next three or four years there will be a new leader of the Labour Party and that will be an opportunity for the party to revisit some of the issues."