British newspaper makes House of Lords bribery claims

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The British Houses of Parliament. Image: Mgimelfarb

An investigation by the Sunday Times newspaper has made allegations of bribery against four members of the House of Lords, Britain's unelected upper legislative body.

The paper says it has secretly made recordings of Lord Truscott admitting to making a recent energy bill more favourable to a client who markets "smart" electricity meters.

The Sunday Times also alleges that Lord Taylor of Blackburn had claimed to have made changes to a bill to help Experian, a credit reference agency. The paper adds that Lords Moonie and Snape had agreed to take payments from undercover journalists.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, the Leader of the House of Lords, issued a statement saying "I am deeply concerned about these allegations. I have spoken to the members who are the subject of them and I shall be pursuing these matters with the utmost vigour".

The AFP news agency notes that the Lords' Code of Conduct requires that members "must never accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence". The Sunday Times says that there have been "persistent rumours" that lobbyists have switched to concentrating on the Lords rather than the Commons because "MPs are under greater scrutiny".