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‘Peers for Sale’ Allegations

Transparency International UK is extremely concerned about allegations in yesterday’s Sunday Times that Peers have been willing to accept cash in return for political favours. The Transparency International movement worldwide has highlighted, as one of its global priorities, the need to fight political corruption. The UK, once viewed as a world leader in the anti-corruption movement, has seen its standing eroded in recent years, in part due to a series of political corruption scandals, including: loans-for-honours, influence peddling, ‘John Lewis lists’ and family payrolls for non-existent research. Both Houses of Parliament, it would now seem, are prone to doubtful and unethical practices.


26 January 2009 – Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of TI (UK) said:

“Such allegations undermine public confidence in UK politics. This is reflected in the UK’s recent slide down Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.”

A minority of members in the ‘mother of parliaments’ continues to drag the reputation of the UK and its many hard-working parliamentarians through the mud. The possibility of corrupt behaviour by certain members of the House of Lords who were allegedly willing to be paid to influence legislation underlines the inadequacy of ethical oversight in Westminster.

Commenting on the claims that four members of the House of Lords were willing to use their influence to amend laws in exchange for cash

John Drysdale, Chairman of Transparency International (UK) said:

“If confirmed, these allegations underscore the urgent need for a tighter, more transparent system for ensuring ethical behaviour in the Palace of Westminster.

“While the majority of peers work selflessly in the public interest this is not the first time the standards of behaviour of some of our politicians have been called into question. The Sub-committee on Lords’ Interests must carry out an urgent investigation into these allegations and report its findings within a month. Any peers found guilty should be asked to resign.

“Because of the obvious deficiencies in oversight of the House of Lords, there must also be an independent inquiry by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.”

While commending the Government for its decision to abandon its opposition to the disclosure of MPs’ expenses, Transparency International (UK) believes that a great deal more needs to be done to clean up British politics.

Against this background, Transparency International (UK) is calling for:

In response to the immediate allegations

• The Sub-committee on Lords’ Interests, which will be undertaking an investigation, to report within one month.
• The Speaker and Lord Chancellor to commit to the prompt publication of the report; and time to be set aside in both Houses for its debate.
• Any parliamentarian found to have broken codes of ethics or parliamentary rules, to be publicly exposed and asked to resign from the House.
In the longer term
• An investigation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life into the standards of ethical behaviour and oversight exercised within the House of Lords, with specific reference to the grey areas that have become apparent in advocacy and lobbying.
• In the light of any such investigation, new rules to replace the current discredited regime of self-regulation.
• Creation of a permanent independent oversight body for the House of Lords to ensure that the rules are enforced.
• Creation of powers to suspend or expel members from the House of Lords.
• Assurance that the UK is in compliance with Article 12 of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Corruption, covering Trading in Influence.

 

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Read 2107 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:07

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