The government has restored the century-old tradition of appointing retiring masters of the rolls to the House of Lords by including Sir Terence Etherton in the 2020 political peerages list. Sir Terence, who steps down as the head of civil justice in England and Wales at the end of this year, will sit as a cross-bencher.

Serving judges have not been entitled to sit in the lords following the abolition of the law lords in 2009. Sir Terence's predecessor, Lord Dyson, was not granted a peerage on his retirement in 2016 - a disappointment made public in his autobiography published last year. His title is a courtesy one granted for life to all Supreme Court justices.

When he takes his place in the upper house, Sir Terence will sit alongside his predecessors Lord Neuberger, Lord Clarke, Lord Phillips and Lord Woolf. Lord Judge, the 79-year-old former lord chief justice Igor Judge, also sits in the lords.

Commenting on the announcement, the current lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, said:  'Sir Terence has made an outstanding contribution to the nation as a judge, developing the law in critical areas and bringing about lasting improvements to the administration of justice. This will provide Sir Terence with the opportunity to continue to provide service to the public though his contribution to the House of Lords as he retires from the judiciary.'

The apparent decision to bolster the judicial ranks of the upper house will be interpreted as part of the government's constitutional reform programme. The list of peers announced this week has already attracted controversy both for its length, which takes membership of the Lords to more than 830, and for the prime minister's decision to overrule the House of Lords Appointments Commission over the appointment of businessman and philanthropist Peter Cruddas.