Lloyd George was, in private, candid about this, commenting that selling peerages was quite the cleanest way of funding political parties, its problem being that it was so difficult to defend. The argument is, basically, that if rich people want to spend a million pounds on acquiring a title then why not let them? Both parties can nominate people for advancement to the peerage, so there is no question of abuse of government power, and now that hereditary peers have mainly vanished from the House of Lords, the risk of granting dynastic political power has also gone.
In other words, the scandal that Blair is selling peerages is a belated one to say the least. The system has continued unabated for well over a hundred years, in every party and at every level of honour. Far more important a scandal is what else Labour appears to be selling. Looking back to the beginnings of this administration, the Ecclestone affair gave a clear warning of the Government's character. In return for a donation of £1 million, Government policy on advertising cigarettes was changed.
This is the true nature of the scandal. On the list of donors appears Rod Aldridge, CEO of Capita who make most of their money fulfilling Government contracts. Paul Drayson, another donor, is now not only a minister in the Lords, but also won for his company a series of contracts to manufacture vaccines. What is pernicious is not the sale of honours, but the sale of policy.