New figures exposing the extraordinary sums being donated to the Conservative Party by its peers have sparked outrage on social media.
With speculation rife that more donors could be given a passage into the House of Lords in the coming weeks, figures compiled by the Guardian show one in 10 Tory peers have donated more than £100,000 to the party.
Last year under Boris Johnson, David Winton Harding, a billionaire hedge fund manager who had given £1.5 million to the Tories, was given a knighthood.
During his three years in power, Johnson submitted the names of six major donors for peerages, including three financiers: Sir Michael Hintze, who has given £4.5 million to the Conservatives; Michael Spencer, who together with his company has given about £7 million; and Peter Cruddas, who has donated £3.4 million.
There has also been a growing trend of big donor peers being given jobs as ministers.
Most recently, Liz Truss requested a peerage for Dominic Johnson, a former party vice-chairman who has given more than £300,000 and was the business partner of her then business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
He was subsequently appointed as a trade minister, a job he then retained under Rishi Sunak.
At least six big donor peers have been given government jobs in the last decade, including two schools ministers (Theodore Agnew and John Nash), a Scotland Office minister (Malcolm Offord) and a business minister (Jonathan Marland). Dolar Popat served as a government whip.
“Serious risk of corruption”
Commenting on the findings, Duncan Hames, the policy director of Transparency International UK, said: “We are of the view that political party leaders shouldn’t be nominating and effectively appointing members of the House of Lords.
“Their need to raise funds for their political campaigns creates a serious risk of corruption when they are also in a position to be able to offer that kind of patronage.
“We have a House of Lords that is already full and we also have a process by which people can be chosen because of their expertise and merit via a House of Lords appointment commission. There is no need to continue this arrangement which is bringing British politics into disrepute.”
Reaction elsewhere was similarly fierce.
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