As well as making recommendations for non-party-political peerages, the Prime Minister asks the Commission to vet nominations for peerages - including those of the political parties - for propriety.
The Commission plays no part in assessing the suitability of those nominated by the political parties, which is a matter for the parties themselves.
Its role is to advise the Prime Minister if it has any concerns about the propriety of a nominee. The Commission takes the view that in this context, propriety means:
i) the individual should be in good standing in the community in general and with the public regulatory authorities in particular; and
ii) the past conduct of the nominee would not reasonably be regarded as bringing the House of lords into disrepute.
The Commission requires individuals being proposed for an appointment to the House of Lords to complete a consent form, declaring:
The political parties provide the Commission with:
All nominees are asked to give their consent to the necessary checks made by the Commission. These include checking with relevant government departments and agencies and other organisation including the Electoral Commission, as well as carrying out a media search.
Taking all the evidence into account, the Appointments Commission will either advise the Prime Minister that it sees no reason why an appointment should not be made, or draw any concerns to his attention. The Commission does not have a right of veto; it is down to the Prime Minister to decide whether to recommend an individual to Her Majesty The Queen for appointment.
A particular issue arises in relation to nominations by a political party if the individual being nominated has made a donation (or a series of donations), a loan or a credit arrangement to or with a party or a political cause. On the one hand, the Commission believes that nominees should not be prevented from receiving a peerage just because they have made donations or loans. On the other, the making of a donation or loan to a political party cannot of itself be a reason for a peerage.
Of central concern to the Commission, therefore, is the credibility of individuals who have made significant political donations, loans or credit arrangements. The Commission believes that the best way of addressing this issue is to reach a view on whether or not the individual could have been a credible nominee if he or she had made no financial contribution.
The Commission was recently asked to vet for propriety individuals upon whom the Prime Minister wished to confer a peerage in order that they might sit in the House of Lords to take up a ministerial role. The Commission expects to be asked to perform a similar role in the future.
Ministerial appointees are required to make the same declarations about their tax status and donations as are other nominees. As a minimum the Commission will consult its main vetting agencies and the Electoral Commission register before giving its advice. With the inevitable time constraints surrounding a government reshuffle the extent to which the Commission is able to gather a wider range of evidence may vary from one occasion to another.