By a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish National Party is to contact Scotland Yard urging a criminal investigation into claims members of the House of Lords are buying their peerages.
SNP MP Angus MacNeil who uncovered the ‘cash for honours’ scandal in 2006 will write to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police following comments from Lord Oakeshott this week in which the Lib Dem peer revealed the practice is still common place.
In his resignation statement this week Lord Oakeshott explained how former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy had asked him to try to “shake up the Lords”.
“I’ve tried – my bills to ban non-dom peers are now law” he said.
However in a reference to some peers having paid for their titles by donating to political parties, he added: ” – but my efforts to expose and end cash for peerages in all parties, including our own, and help get the Lords elected have failed.”
Commenting, Angus MacNeil MP said:
“Lord Oakeshott’s comments are bigger than any admission that emerged through the last cash for honours investigation. I’d be surprised if Scotland Yard did not at least do a scoping investigation on this. I will be writing to request they do so in light of these explosive remarks from Lord Oakeshott.
“His claims resurrects this whole scandal, and we need full disclosure of which members of the House of Lords he is talking about, and what they gave in return for a peerage.”
In March 2006, several men nominated for life peerages by then Prime Minister Tony Blair were rejected by the House of Lords Appointments Commission after it emerged they had loaned large amounts of money to the Labour Party.
An inquiry was prompted after a complaint was made by Mr MacNeil that financial support to political parties was being rewarded with honours, in contravention of a 1925 anti-corruption law. However despite a lengthy investigation, which included Tony Blair being questioned by police, no charges were ever brought against any individual.
Criticising the makeup of the unelected Westminster chamber, the SNP MP added:
“Under the Westminster system, we have the ludicrous situation that there are far more legislators who are appointed than elected – and people in Scotland elect only 4 per cent of the Westminster parliamentarians who hold powers over the economy, welfare, defence, our place in Europe, and many other crucial areas of policy.
“The SNP’s long-standing position is that we believe those making laws should be elected by the people, and therefore we do not nominate members to the House of Lords.
“If the rest of the UK want to keep funding the unelected House of Lords, that is a matter for them. A Yes vote means that people in Scotland can get rid of the expensive and unrepresentative Westminster tier – saving around £50 million a year in not sending MPs and peers to London- which means more cost effective and fairer government.”