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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 11:46 GMT
Tycoon says no thanks to peerage
Sir David Garrard
Sir David says he no longer wants a peerage
A property millionaire who made a loan to the Labour Party before the last election has asked Tony Blair to stop his nomination for a peerage.

Sir David Garrard, who also gave 2.4m to one of Mr Blair's flagship city academies, says he made an unspecified loan to Labour "on commercial terms".

The news comes as the Commons public administration committee prepares to probe the way peerages are awarded.

Ministers have denied that party donors can "buy" a place in the Lords.

'Non-nonsense' approach

Sir David is one of three businessmen who lent money to the Labour Party and whose nominations for peerages are reportedly being blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

The tycoon's spokeswoman said he had thanked Mr Blair for nominating him for the honour, and assured him that he was still committed to the government and its education policy.

I have said right from the beginning that I'm not giving a running commentary on how we prepare peers' lists
Prime Minister's spokesman

But she said: "Sir David has written to the prime minister asking for his name to be removed from the list of nominees for peerage."

Sir David is the sponsor for the Business Academy in Bexley, Kent, a school lauded by the prime minister as "the future" for secondary education.

His spokeswoman said he had heard of his nomination in October last year and had been informed it was for his lifelong commitment to "child welfare and education", plus his "vigorous support" of the government's education policy.

No comment

But he was "disappointed" that in the months since the peerage nominations list was leaked, the appointments' commission "has not once asked for clarification" of any issues which could have been under investigation, she said.

This was "despite offers to address any issues or provide answers to any unposed questions", she added.

The prime minister's official spokesman refused to comment on the matter.

"I have said right from the beginning that I'm not giving a running commentary on how we prepare peers' lists," he said.

"This has been the convention and the longer this has gone on, the more wisdom I think lies in that convention."

Committee merger

The row over peerages has prompted new calls for parties to be forced to declare loans in the same way they do for outright donations.

The public administration committee (PAC) looked at the honours system a year ago, saying honours should be separated from appointments to the upper chamber.

Since then, the honours scrutiny committee has been merged with the House of Lords Appointments Commission

Tony Wright, the PAC's Labour chairman, said the continuing speculation about the checks on the honours system had prompted his committee to take evidence on the issue.

"We will be hearing from those charged with scrutinising nominations to ensure that there are robust safeguards against honours for sale," he said.

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