Blair pledges loans shake-up

REVALATIONS regarding loans to the Labour Party by wealthy donors have led Tony Blair to promise changes to the way peers are nominated.

By Graham Dines

REVALATIONS regarding loans to the Labour Party by wealthy donors has led Tony Blair to considering changes to the way peers are nominated in light of the latest furore./

At his monthly Press conference in Downing Street this lunchtime, he said he was considering “taking the politics out” of the honours system by renouncing the right of the Prime Minister to nominate individuals.

Yesterday, Labour's Treasurer Jack Dromey startled the party by announcing he had never been consulted by Downing Street about the loans, which have become embroiled in a “cash for honours” row.

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Three of those who lent Labour money were later nominated to peerages by the Prime Minister, but were blocked by the independent House of Lords Appointments Commission. They have now indicated that they no longer wish to be considered for peerages.

The Prime Minister said today: “As leader of the Labour Party I take responsibility for all that is done in its name”

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He said it would be wrong to bar donors from receiving peerages, adding: “I am completely satisfied that there has been no breach of any of the rules in relation to Labour Party nominations,'' he said.

Mr Blair said the "furore'' came "hot on the heels'' of other issues.

He acknowledged that Mr Dromey should have been informed, though he pointed out that in law it is Labour's general secretary rather than its treasurer who has ultimate responsibility for the party's finances.

“If you look back on the events of the past few months yes, I think it is clear it would be more sensible if loans were treated in the same way as donations.”

The money had been spent on the General Election campaign and its aftermath - “I have no doubt about

that at all. This idea that somehow there was some sort of secret account and the money has gone to be spent on something completely different as far as I'm aware, is complete rubbish.”

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