Cash for Peerages Affair Shows Need for Package of Reforms

December 19, 2007 12:00 AM

Today, the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) published its long awaited report into 'Cash for Honours'.

The report recommends a comprehensive package of measures to restore faith in public life including:

• A House of Lords Reform Bill giving the independent House of Lords Commission the final say on peer appointments based on clear, transparent and merit-based criteria for membership.

• Boost the powers of the Electoral Commission as a regulator of party funding.

• Bring forward a new law on corruption in public life to update the last Corruption Act passed in 1916.

Commenting, Jenny Willott MP and member of the Committee, said:

"The cash for peerages affair struck at the core of our democracy. Even though there were no charges brought forward, trust in public life has been badly shaken and it's essential that immediate action is taken to restore faith in our political system.

"While not directly breaking the law, it is clear that the spirit of the law was broken by some political parties who exploited a legal loophole allowing some large loans to remain undeclared. This was at the heart of the cash for honours affair.

"We must take immediate action restore the public's confidence in out political system. Party funding arrangements must be reformed and there must be a reduction in the powers of patronage as it relates to the Lords.

"The final say on peerage appointments must be taken by the independent House of Lords Appointments Commission who would judge candidates according to specific merit-based criteria.

"An honest democracy must be able to continually scrutinise itself, identify shortcomings and reform. The Government must act on the Committee's long considered recommendations so that this debacle does not occur again and our political system is made more transparent and trustworthy in the future."

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