‘Cash for peerage’ revelation shows Lords ripe for reform, say campaigners

Campaigners are calling for reform to the House of Lords after Downing Street announced the appointment of a Conservative donor to the Lords.

Malcolm Offord, a Scottish financier, will be made a life peer, and become a junior minister in the Scotland Office, Downing Street has announced.

Offord was a candidate for the Conservatives in May’s Scottish parliamentary election, a decision that prompted accusations of cronyism given that he had donated £147,500 to the party. Offord stood as a list candidate in the Lothian region but was not elected.

The Electoral Reform Society believes politicians should be elected, via proportional representation.

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director, Electoral Reform Society said: “Yet again we see another example of party donors who appear to be fast-tracked into cushy jobs and seats in the Lords for life. Voters sense there is systemic cronyism at the heart of government, and it is made possible through Britain’s unelected second chamber.

He went on: “Unelected peers hold a powerful role in our politics and are given a lifetime seat to make our laws. Gone is any claim that the Lords is a revising chamber of experts – instead we have what is little more than a private members club chocked full of donors, ex-MPs and political allies – all appointed on the whim of the Prime Minister of the day.

Alister Jack, the secretary of state for Scotland, defended the move, saying that Mr Offord would help the country’s economic recovery through his “wealth of valuable business experience”.

Mr Johnson has previously faced backlash for elevating Nicky Morgan, Zac Goldsmith, David Frost and Conservative donor Peter Cruddas to the cabinet after granting them peerages.