Monday, January 26, 2009

Corruption in the House of Lords

What's the price of amending a law in your favour the UK? Between 24,000 and 120,000 pounds:

Undercover reporters posing as lobbyists approached 10 peers and asked for help to get a planning Bill changed on behalf of a fictitious client who hoped to open a chain of shops. Four Labour members of the House of Lords allegedly responded to the approach.

According to The Sunday Times, Lord Taylor of Blackburn negotiated an annual fee of £120,000 for trying to amend the Bill and claimed to have helped changed the law for a credit card company that he represented.

Lord Truscott of St James, a former energy minister, allegedly quoted a sum of £72,000 for a similar service. According to the newspaper, he told its reporters that he was able to influence the Energy Bill to benefit a client selling "smart" electricity meters.

Lord Moonie, a former defence minister, reportedly offered to help for an annual fee of £30,000, adding that he could identify colleagues who would table an amendment to the planning Bill. Lord Snape, a former Labour whip, allegedly quoted a sum of £24,000 and also offered find someone to amend the Bill. Offering to amend Bills in return for cash is a breach of the "no paid advocacy" rules governing conduct in the Lords. Anyone breaking the guidelines can be "named and shamed" in the chamber but cannot be suspended or expelled from Parliament.

They should also be able to be prosecuted and jailed for corruption, and hopefully that is exactly what will happen. Lawmakers are there to represent their constituents, not sell legislation to the highest bidder.