Secret Loans To Be Banned
The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, has outlined plans to ban secret loans to political parties, after the Labour Party has become embroiled in accusations of sleaze, as rich businessmen who have loaned the party money have been offered peerages. The row over how parties should be funded has re-opened, with the Tories saying that the number of M.P.s should be cut to raise funds for state funding of parties, and Lord Falconer has suggested an American-style cap of £50,000 on donations from an individual (but, as we saw in the US elections in 2004, there are many loopholes in this system that can be exploited).
The question of the way Peerages are given has also re-opened: Should Lords be nominated, or does it inevitably lead to sleaze? Should Peers be elected? Londonist feels that whilst the election of peers is not a perfect solution, something ought to be done to alleviate the reliance of political parties on rich donors.
An End To The Stalemate?
The Conservatives and the Lib Dems have offered a compromise on the Government's controversial I.D. cards Bill, which is currently in the middle of a game of parliamentary ping-pong - on its way back from the Lords after being rejected on legal grounds. The opposition parties now want to delay the implementation of I.D. cards to 2012, rather than 2008.
Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman in the Lords, Lord Phillips said, "Our compromise amendment will mean that no one will be compelled to have an ID card when obtaining a passport before 2012. This delay will allow the political parties to make clear where they stand on this fundamental issue at the next election. In the meantime, anyone will be able to voluntarily take out an ID card. In five years time it will be much clearer what the effects of this scheme will be in terms of cost, technology and public opinion."
A cynic might say that, in reality, the opposition parties are hoping that by 2012, Labour won't be in power, and by delaying the Bill, a possible Conservative government could overturn it, or that when Blair steps down as PM, his successor might not take such a hard line on I.D. cards. We will have to wait and see.