Press Notice 29, Session 2005-06

14 March 2006

PASC to probe scrutiny of political honours

As part of its current inquiry into ethics and standards in public life PASC-the Public Administration Select Committee-is asking whether the scrutiny of honours and peerages for political service is working. It plans to publish a report within three months.

There has been intense media speculation that the reason for the delay in approving the latest list of working peers is associated with the nature and extent of donations to political parties by some nominees. There have also been allegations that loans have been used as a way of circumventing declarations of political donations and that sponsors of the new academy schools have been promised knighthoods and other honours.

Commenting today, Committee Chairman Tony Wright said:

“The Public Administration Select Committee looked at the honours system in detail just over a year ago. We urged that honours should be clearly separated from membership of the second chamber and recommended an independent honours commission. Since then important changes have been made to the safeguards including the merger of the Honours Scrutiny Committee with the House of Lords Appointment Commission and greater reliance on the Electoral Commission’s list of political donations.

With continuing speculation about whether the system of scrutiny is sufficiently robust and as part of our wider inquiry into current standards of probity in public life, we will be hearing from those charged with scrutinising nominations to ensure that there are robust safeguards against honours for sale.”

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FURTHER INFORMATION:

The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005.  Its terms of reference are to examine the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsmen, and to consider matters relating to the quality and standards of administration provided by Civil Service departments, and other matters relating to the Civil Service. The Membership of the Committee is as follows: Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), Julia Goldsworthy (Lib Dem) (Falmouth & Camborne), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Grant Shapps (Con) (Welwyn Hatfield), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, 020 7219 0724/07917 488 447, email - [email protected]

Chairman: Dr Tony Wright may be contacted for press inquiries on 020 7219 5583

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