Monday, November 27, 2006

How it works in Britain

The British Labour Party has been enmeshed in a funding scandal for the last six months over claims they effectively sold peerages in exchange for donations in the form of low- or interest-free loans. This violates both the UK's Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925, and its election funding laws, which require full disclosure of all loans on non-commercial terms. A party secretary who violates these laws face up to a year in jail. Mp's face a more severe penalty: they lose their seats. And as the Independent points out today, this could catch Tony Blair:

The law governing elections, brought in by Mr Blair, calls for full disclosure of loans and the "person or body making such a donation".

Any MP found guilty of withholding such information from the party treasurer would have to resign his seat. Mr Blair, the member for Sedgefield, did not tell Jack Dromey, the party's honorary treasurer, about the loans.


Under the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act, an MP who "withholds from the treasurer of a registered party any material information" about donations will have to "vacate the seat or office".

This seems like an effective punishment to me. Isn't it time we introduced it here?


Agreed. Worth noting both Labour and the Conservatives are embroiled in this. Each party gets to nominate candidates for peerages.

This has *always* been a way of rewarding spondors. A really good reason for having and elected 2nd chamber.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/27/2006 12:49:00 PM

Noddy: A really good reason for having and elected 2nd chamber.

Or not having one at all. Unicameralism works just fine in New Zealand.

(And I'd regard it as axiomatic that if you have any legislative chamber, it ought to be elected. The Lords are an anachronism and it is long past time they were accountable to the people).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/27/2006 01:01:00 PM

We have that punishment here - commit a corrupt practice, lose your seat.

You'd just like the definition of corrupt practice extended...

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 11/27/2006 01:24:00 PM

Can you imagine what Blair or Thatcher would have done with no second chamber to restrain them?

I don't agree that "Unicameralism works just fine in New Zealand".

It's far to easy to pass legislation and as a result we have too many unneccesary, oppresive or plain stupid laws. I wonder how many offences have been created in the past twenty years for which no-one, or a tiny number of people, have been convicted.

It is for instance, illegal to insult a teacher (students are exempt from this), sell a cannabis pipe (but you can sell an identical item for tobacco smoking purposes) or to walk a dog within the Wellington CBD.

Posted by Rich : 11/27/2006 01:26:00 PM

Graeme: precisely.

Rich: and look at what our second chamber did to impede progress when we did have one. I'd prefer to have checks and balances operate through an entrenched bill of rights than give the wealthy a veto on policy.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/27/2006 01:38:00 PM

I wasn't advocating an unelected second chamber.

Election for alternating six year terms, pure PR, 5% threshold and a one term limit might work. Plus no powers over money bills and the ability for the lower house to over-ride any veto with a 2/3 majority.

Posted by Rich : 11/27/2006 08:45:00 PM

but does NZ really swing too wildly?

aside from roger douglas NZ doesn't seem to move very fast.

I guess we could say it should move slower... but if anything I'd be happy to see it move faster as long as there were more controls in place to ensure it moved in the right direction.

Posted by Genius : 11/28/2006 10:36:00 PM