Friday, 26 October 2007

Whiter the white

Extracts from today’s Guardian – 26/X (I know, I’m sorry, I only read it occasionally to laugh at Toynbee)

A Labour peer has admitted taking money to introduce an arms company lobbyist to the government minister in charge of weapons purchases. The case of "cash for access" in the House of Lords is likely to ignite fresh concern about ethical standards in parliament.

The lobbyist paid cash for an introduction to Lord Drayson, the defence minister in charge of billions of pounds of military procurement, according to evidence obtained by the Guardian.

Money changed hands with former Labour frontbencher Lord Hoyle, previously Doug Hoyle, an ex-government whip and former MP for Warrington.

The lobbyist, Michael Wood, who trades as Whitehall Advisers, agreed to pay Lord Hoyle an undisclosed sum in June 2005. MoD documents show that Lord Hoyle then engineered a private meeting between Mr Wood and the newly appointed defence minister.

Paying cash for ministerial introductions is a practice frowned on at the House of Lords, but not specifically outlawed. "Cash for introductions" is forbidden by the main lobbyists' trade body, the Association of Professional Political Consultants, but Mr Wood is not a member.

Parliamentary registrar Brendan Keith, who administers the peers' code of conduct, says: "Facilitating meetings with ministers on behalf of a company that a member is employed by is not something that I would advise."

He says it would "probably not violate the Lords code of conduct". However, he added: "Were a member nevertheless to go ahead, he would certainly have to declare to the minister his interest/relationship with the company."

Lord Hoyle did report to the Lords registrar that Mr Wood had hired him as a "consultant", claiming it was for matters unconnected to parliament. But the public register had not been updated at the time of the Drayson meeting.

Lord Hoyle now says he was not "specifically paid for [the] sole purpose" of introducing Mr Wood to the minister. But he could not identify any other services he provided. He said he had done "very little" for Mr Wood, who would ring up occasionally and talk "mainly about football".

Labour MP Paul Flynn, a member of a Commons committee which has just launched an inquiry into lobbyists, says: "To pay cash for introductions is wrong and indefensible. Peers are not for hire."

Aside from suggesting that Mr. Flynn may not be wholly accurate in his statement regarding the availability of Peers of the Realm I don’t think that there is much I need to add to this by way of additional commentary.

2 comments:

Phil A said...

Nope - It speaks for it's self...

will said...

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