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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Loans for peerages

The loans for peerages row is continuing to spin out of the control of Downing Street with further allegations in today's papers and with the police announcing that they are widening their enquiry next week.

In today's Observer Downing Street sources have admitted that two donors to Tony Blair's flagship education policy project were nominated for peerages because of their support for academy schools. One such source "insisted the Prime Minister was entitled to select as political working peers those he wanted on Labour's side in such votes. Aides insist the row is based on suggestions Number 10 was trying to ennoble donors secretly when in fact the academy link was openly in the citations, adding that this would not stop academy sponsors being nominated for the Lords in future."

As true as this is, the problem is not that Blair sought to put people in the House of Lords who have a political affinity with his agenda, but that those he chose were people who had made a substantial personal financial commitment to the academy programme.

The Independent suggests that things can only get worse for both Labour and the Tories. They report that both parties could be made to forfeit millions of pounds in donations if the police cash-for-honours inquiry finds them guilty of breaking the law. Things could have been so different of course if the House of Commons had voted to democratise the upper House some years ago.
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