Sunday, January 25, 2009

How Many More Lords Of Corruption?

15 years after the Sunday Times exposed the commons 'cash for questions' scandal, the Insight team has blown the gaff on a 'cash for laws' scandal - this time with their sights on the 'untouchable' Lords and New Labour's cronies. Now only a deep clean will remove the stench of corruption filling the air.

In a sting worthy of the original Insight investigations, Sunday Times undercover reporters claim their lordships offered to help make amendments to legislation in return for up to £120,000.

The Orange Party finds it somewhat refreshing yet disturbing that out of the ten peers approached, only the New Labour lords went a-leaping, with three Tory, one LibDem and an Ulster Unionist having nothing to do with it. 

In the frame as reporters posed as lobbyists before making their excuses and leaving, are a former energy minister, Lord Truscott, Lord Moonie, a former defence minister, Lord Snape, a former government whip and Lord Taylor of Blackburn, pal of justice secretary Jack Straw. All the peers reportedly deny any wrongdoing.

Taylor is reported to have made a priceless comment to the Sunday Times: "The rules are meant to be bent sometimes". That does beg the question, just how many of their lordships are at it? 

Leader of the Lords, Baroness Royall, said she is "deeply concerned" over the allegations and if it emerged the peers had broken the rules, they would be "named and shamed". 

That's not good enough Lady R. These are allegations of corruption and that is serious. The House needs to be put in order to nip the 'cash for laws' in the bud.
Her hands are tied of course as their lordships are untouchable and can't be thrown out but what is required is legislation. Maybe Straw can make a start on a first draft, with help from Lord Mandelson? 

In 1994, the Sunday Times followed by the Guardian, exposed Tory 'cash for questions' scandals in the commons leading to the Nolan committee on standards, a tougher register of members interests and Major's government branded with 'sleaze'.

Blair famously declared an end to sleaze as the government beavered away creating peerages for pals, stuffed the cosy gentleman's club with its cronies (more than 370 in total) and came spectacularly unstuck with the greed-fuelled 'cash for honours' scandal.

What little public confidence there is now in the behaviour of their lordships can only be restored with a deep clean to rid the House of the Lords of Corruption and a full independent investigation of this disgrace, backed by prime minister Brown.

Picture: Flashback to 1997 and Private Eye's take on the Hamiltons and one of the original 'cash for questions' scandals, which helped bring down Major's nice 'n sleazy government. 

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