House of Lords: How Tory sleaze punctured Parliaments second chamber with £3m drama
Sky News: Trevor Phillips says government in trouble over ‘sleaze’
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Conservative donors have regularly made headlines between 2020 and 2021, covering accusations regarding private companies and lucrative Covid contracts. The latest scandal has, for the second time in a week, enveloped preferential treatment in Parliament. Reports have suggested the Government is offering peerages in the House of Lords to top donors.
Organisations have accused the Conservative party of offering a “guaranteed peerage” to “wealthy benefactors”.
An investigation conducted by Open Democracy and the Sunday Times revealed people who take on temporary roles as party treasurer and increase donations to £3 million often secure the sought-after position in Parliament’s upper chamber.
They found that over the last 20 years, 15 of the party’s 16 “main” treasurers have received a peerage.
Only the most recent treasurer, who stepped down in September after donating £3.8 million, didn’t.
One member of the Lord’s appointment commission told the Sunday Times about a recent case.
They said the Prime Minister pushed through the appointment of billionaire Peter Cruddas against the commission’s express recommendation.
The panel member said the decision “left a bad taste in my mouth”.
The Sunday Times named Lords Spencer, Fraser, Lupton and Farmer as other recent Tory appointees.
And former vice-chairman Lord Brownlow received his in 2019, shortly after his donations broke £3 million.
Sitting Conservatives have spoken of their discomfort with the tradition, stating it is no secret.
One former chairman said the “entire political establishment” understands the alleged agreement but does “nothing about it”.
They added: “Once you pay your £3 million, you get your peerage.”
Former cabinet minister Lord Fowler outlined the potentially shifty nature of these appointments.
He told the Times many of these contributors “want something”, including influence over party or policy.
He added these aims pose “clear dangers for a political party”.
The Lords revelations come as opposition parties and political analysts accuse the Conservatives of corruption.
Last week, the Government forced a vote through Parliament that, much like today, would have allowed companies or people to pay for political influence.
The Parliamentary Standard Committee found Owen Paterson – now the ex-MP for Sheffield – had made an “egregious” breach of proper protocol surrounding lobbying.
He had received “nearly three times his annual parliamentary salary” working for two organisations, Randox and Lynn’s.
The Committee ruled that “no previous case of paid advocacy has seen so many breaches”, but Conservative MPs voted to overhaul the process, arguing his innocence.
While he has since quit his position, the vote risked cementing paid influence over MPs in Parliament.
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