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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Parties should explain why they nominate people to be peers

If we cannot yet have an elected second chamber then the least that should happen is that there should be some transparency as to why people are nominated to serve in the House of Lords.

That is not quite the conclusion of the Lords Appointments Commission but it amounts to much the same thing. According to the Independent the chairman of the House of Lords appointments Commission, Lord Kakkar called on political parties to start publishing detailed information about why they have chosen somebody to become a peer:

The intervention comes in the wake of the row which followed the awarding of a peerage to Ranbir Singh Suri, a Sikh jewellery magnate who has donated more than £300,000 to the Tories since 2004. 

The Independent revealed how Downing Street created a misleading impression about the new Lord Suri by suggesting in its official citation that he was “former General Secretary of the Board of British Sikhs” – a group which has not existed for more than 20 years and which folded after holding only a few meetings. 

Number 10 also described Lord Suri as a leading figure in Britain’s Sikh community, a claim which has been dismissed by some prominent Sikh groups, who said he was unknown to them. One of them described the suggestion as a “bare-faced lie”. 

Lord Kakkar was writing in response to a letter from Ms Onwurah, who had demanded to know whether David Cameron’s recommendation of a peerage for Lord Suri had been properly assessed. 

In his reply – which he pointedly copied to Mr Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, the leaders of the three main Westminster parties – he said that that the Commission only vetted nominations for peerages for “propriety” and not “suitability”, which he said was a judgement “for the parties alone”. 

However, he added that during the vetting process the Commission asked to see a “detailed citation from the party leader” giving reasons for each nomination, which are currently not made public. Only a short official citation is released.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Lord Suri, who was a magistrate for more than a decade and runs a successful jewellery company, Oceanic Jewellers, in London. 

That sort of transparency sounds like commonsense to me.
Such questions should be asked of all parties - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a015d49a-faa1-11e2-a7aa-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3CKuewklZ
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