Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925
|Long title||An Act for the prevention of abuses in connection with the Grant of Honours.|
|Citation||15 & 16 Geo. 5 c. 72|
|Introduced by||The Marquess of Salisbury|
|Territorial extent||United Kingdom|
|Royal assent||7 August 1925|
|Commencement||7 August 1925|
|Relates to||Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, Bribery Act 2010|
Status: Current legislation
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Text of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.|
The Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, that makes the sale of peerages or any other honours illegal. The act was passed by the Parliament in the wake of Lloyd-George's 1922 cash-for-honours scandal. In 2006 a number of people connected to the Labour Party government of Tony Blair were arrested in connection with alleged offences under the 1925 Act.
Lloyd George honours scandal
The act was brought in after the Liberal Party government of David Lloyd George was severely embarrassed peddling honours for party funds. The practice was legal and dated back several decades partly for new money to discreetly acquire titles; Lloyd George made the practice more systematic and more brazen, charging £10,000 for a knighthood, £30,000 for baronetcy, and £50,000 upwards for a peerage. The practice came to a halt with the notorious 1922 Birthday List, which contained the names of, Sir Joseph Robinson, a South African gold and diamond magnate who had been convicted of fraud and fined half a million pounds a few months earlier, Sir William Vestey, a multi millionaire meat importer notorious for his tax evasion, Samuel Waring, who had been accused of War profiteering and Archibald Williamson whose oil firm had allegedly traded with the enemy during the war.
Only one person has ever been convicted under the Act —Maundy Gregory, Lloyd George's "honours broker", in 1933— whose same behaviour in 1918 was the main cause of the Act in the first place. Gregory's 1933 conviction was secured over his attempts to broker the selling of Vatican knighthoods in the UK. To this date, the Act has never been successfully used to convict anyone involved in the sale of UK honours.
2006: Cash for honours
In March 2006, following complaints by Scottish National Party MP Angus McNeil, the Metropolitan Police started investigating possible breaches of the Act. A total of £5 million in loans was given by four wealthy businessmen to the Labour Party during the 2005 general election campaign, the men were subsequently nominated by Tony Blair for peerages. All four of the peerages were blocked by the House of Lords appointments commission. The police inquiries led to 136 people being interviewed including Tony Blair, the first prime minister to be questioned by police as part of a political corruption inquiry although “as a witness rather than a suspect”. In 2007, after a £1.4 million, 19-month investigation, the police handed a 216-page report with 6,300 supporting documents to the Crown Prosecution Service which later announced it had insufficient evidence to bring charges against anyone.
2021: Cash for favours scandal
In September 2021, Michael Fawcett, Prince Charles’s closest aide, “stepped down temporarily” as chief executive of the Prince's foundation, after an investigation by The Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday reported that he “offered to help to secure a knighthood and British citizenship” for a Saudi tycoon, who donated £1.5m to Prince Charles’s charities. William Bortrick, the editor and owner of Burke's Peerage, has been named by the Sunday Times as the alleged fixer at the heart of the claims, Bortrick is said to have received thousands of pounds to secure the honour. According to the Metropolitan Police at least two complaints have been made calling for an investigation into whether Prince Charles or Michael Fawcett breached Britain’s 1925 Honours Act (Prevention of Abuses).
- Short title as conferred by s. 2 of the Act; the modern convention for the citation of short titles omits the comma after the word "Act"
- T. A. Jenkins, "The funding of the Liberal Unionist party and the honours system." English Historical Review 105.417 (1990): 920-938.
- Harold J. Hanham, "The sale of honours in late Victorian England." Victorian Studies 3#3 (1960): 277-289.
- Rowland, Peter (1975). "The Man Who Won the War, 1916-1918". Lloyd George. London: Barrie & Jenkins Ltd. p. 448. ISBN 0214200493.
- Peter Rowland, Lloyd George (1975) p 448.
- Commons, House of (2004-07-07). "Fifth Report of the Select Committee on Public Administration". Public Administration.
- Rubinstein, W.D. (2003). Twentieth-Century Britain: A Political History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-230-62913-4.
- Bryant, C. (2014). Parliament: The Biography (Volume II - Reform). Transworld. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-4481-7107-1.
- Travis L. Crosby (2014). The Unknown David Lloyd George: A Statesman in Conflict. I.B.Tauris. p. 330.
- "'Cash-for-honours' timeline". the Guardian. 2007-10-11.
- Low, Valentine (2021-09-08). "Prince Charles has 'no knowledge' of cash-for-honours allegations - News". The Times.
- Pogrund, Gabriel; Gadher, Dipesh (2021-09-04). "Prince Charles aides fixed CBE for Saudi tycoon who gave £1.5m - News". The Sunday Times.
- Grierson, Jamie (2021-09-19). "Prince Charles 'cash-for-honours' scandal grows with fresh allegations". the Guardian.
- Scobie, Omid (2021-09-07). "Buckingham Palace's Statement Regarding Cash-for-Honors Allegations". Harper's BAZAAR. Retrieved 2021-09-15.
- Jenkins, T. A. "The funding of the Liberal Unionist party and the honours system." English Historical Review 105.417 (1990): 920–938. in JSTOR
- Hanham, H.J. "The sale of honours in late Victorian England." Victorian Studies 3#3 (1960): 277–289. in JSTOR
- Rowland, Peter. Lloyd George (1975) pp 447–48, 574–78, 631–33.
- Text of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.
- BBC News article about the announcement of the investigation
- Posting from the blog of BBC News political editor Nick Robinson about the Act and the possibility of prosecutions, 21 March 2006.
- Parliamentary briefing document on the awarding of Honours, September 2004 (PDF document)
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