Sorting by


Some peers appointed due to being ‘friends of people in power’ and donations, new watchdog suggests

The incoming chair of the House of Lords Appointments Committee (HOLAC) has admitted that the Government has given the impression that some peers get their seats because of friends in high places.

Speaking to MPs ahead of her appointment, Baroness Ruth Deech said that she had identified “anxieties” around the suitability of some candidates for peerages.

“I would say that the controversies of appointments in the past have not been about people who think outside the box. It’s been about people who apparently don’t have the requisite qualities, but appear to be nominated because they’ve made very large donations or they are friends of people in power,” she told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC).

“And I think those are the two challenges that are most difficult and have done most damage… that have caused a disquiet.”

Baroness Deech went on to say that making a large donation to a party should not “be a bar” for someone nominated for a peerage, but that every candidate should be “assessed for suitability” for a seat in the Lords.

“I would like to see every nominee assess for suitability, and not just propriety. Propriety is of course necessary, but it doesn’t go far enough,” she continued.

“I don’t know if I can achieve it but I think that every nomination ought to be checked, even if it’s a bishop, even if it’s a hereditary peer, there ought to be no reason why someone like that should not be up for being checked for suitability.”

She said would like to assess how suitable a candidate is for a seat in the Lords based on past contributions to public life, public speaking abilities, and experience of policy, among other areas.

Baroness Deech went on to say that, once she is appointed as chair of HOLAC, she would like to see more people with “day jobs” like retail and transport workers join the Lords to counter “adverse publicity” about the upper house.

Her comments come in the wake of the row over Boris Johnson’s honours list after eight of those he nominated were blocked.

A Downing Street source told i in June that all 16 peerages originally proposed by Mr Johnson were passed on to the independent vetting body without any changes made, but were later rejected by HOLAC.

Reports suggesting Mr Sunak and his team had interjected and refused the peerages were denied by the source. “It is categorically untrue to suggest that the PM or anyone in No 10 removed any names at any point in the process,” they said.

Baroness Deech also issued a warning to the Prime Minister about blocking appointments to the House of Lords, adding: “I would remind the Prime Minister, if it came to it, the enormous damage caused in all quarters by a rejection, and I would hope that that would do it.”

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button