This morning in the House of Commons, the Minister for the Cabinet Office was asked a series of questions relating to whether the government would conduct a review of the process for appointing peers to the House of Lords. This follows weeks of revelations regarding Tory sleaze and the elevation of many wealthy donors to the Lords.
Over the past few weeks, I have heard from many constituents disgusted by the antics of the Conservative party and its disregard for due process and reports that a donation of £3m to the party can effectively buy you a seat in the House of Lords.
I asked two questions in my capacity as SNP spokesperson for the Cabinet Office and Constitution.
Firstly I asked, if the Minister was concerned about Prime Minister’s reply to my colleague, the MP for Na h-Eileanan an Lar, who last week asked if he would “stop sending big-value donors to the House of Lords”
The Prime Minister replied: “Until you get rid of the system by which Trades Union barons fund other parties … we need to continue with the system by which public-spirited people give donations”
I told the House I believe the Prime Minister’s answer comes dangerously close to an admission of selling Peerages, in contravention of the 1925 Honours Prevention of Abuse Act, and is I believe, worthy of further investigation. Today, I asked if he would undertake an investigation or is it sufficiently serious to involve the Metropolitan Police.
Secondly, I asked if the Minister could explain why, since 2010, 22 of the Conservative party’s wealthiest backers – who between them have donated £54million to the Tories – have been appointed to the House of Lords.
I asked him if he thought is was acceptable that his party were stuffing the Lords full of their cronies, political allies and even those unwilling or unable to get elected, and if he really believes this improves or enhances our democracy.
As you can see from my question and his response, the minister makes an abysmal attempt to justify this.