PASC calls for tighter vetting of honours and peerages
In its report published today, ’Propriety and Honours: Interim Findings’ (HC 1119), PASC - the Public Administration Select Committee - says that further steps need to be taken to ensure the propriety of the system for awarding peerages and honours.
In its major review of the honours system two years ago the Committee proposed an independent Honours Commission that should have sole responsibility for propriety issues. The Committee now reviews the recent controversies, against the background of a police investigation, and makes a series of recommendations to strengthen propriety and prevent abuses. These include:
the need for a clear distinction between peerage as honour and as a qualification for membership of the legislature;
tighter checks for propriety in relation to all higher honours;
clear party responsibility for the peerage nomination process;
full disclosure of all relevant information about nominees, including loans and any financial support for government programmes;
resignation honours lists to be vetted for propriety;
a review of anti-corruption legislation in the light of the current police investigation;
the Appointments Commission to be put on a statutory basis;
clear and consistent criteria for propriety across the honours system.
The Committee welcomes the seriousness with which the Appointments Commission has taken its vetting role, and welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that he will no longer add names to the honours list.
Tony Wright said:
‘It is essential that the honours and peerage system commands public confidence. That is why we recommended a properly independent honours commission. Short of that, it is crucial that we have effective checks to ensure that the integrity of the system is protected against abuse and not used as a reward for partisan favours. Our recommendations will help to achieve this.’
Note: This is an interim report, and the Committee may produce a further report in the light of further evidence from witnesses when the current police investigation is completed.
Copies of the Report can be obtained from TSO outlets and from the Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square, London SW1A 2JX (020 7219 3890) by quoting the appropriate HC number. The text of the Report will also be available via the Committee’s internet website:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmpubadm/1119/1119.pdf at 00.01 a.m. on the day of publication.
The Committee homepage:
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), 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), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Grant Shapps (Con) (Welwyn Hatfield), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)
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