Saturday, December 11, 2010

First, expenses now Lobbygate, politicians use second jobs to feather their nest, three former Labour MPs face ban from Parliament

Dear All

As well as the expenses scandal which still haunts Westminster, there is another little cottage industry which should be stamped out.

MPs for hire!

Three former Labour ministers are possibly facing a ban for pimping themselves in the long running Lobbygate scandal.

Some of them wanted to charge thousands of pounds a day to represent clients.

Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Richard Caborn are in the frame for bans.

Byers is looking at two years, Hoon generates a five year and Caborn gets a slap with a six month ban recommendation after the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee stepped in.

But the nub, the decisions have to go before the House of Commons so who knows if they will get banned.

Another Labour MP selling her services was Patricia Hewitt, the ex-health secretary, the committee said she was “unwise” to agree to meet what she thought were representatives from a lobbying firm but she got cleared.

£3,000 a day character

Adam Ingram, the former armed forces minister and Tory Sir John Butterfill were also cleared of wrongdoing but criticised for bad judgment.

All the individuals involved have stepped down from Parliament at the General Election but still retain Westminster passes as former MPs.

So, is there a case for removal for life?

I would suggest yes, we are talking about breach of trust and regulations.

We would never have know about this in such depth but for the sting operation by reporters for Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Sunday Times.

Stephen Byers was caught on film describing himself as a “cab for hire”, an expensive one at £5000-a-day.

His sales pitch was he had secured secret deals with ministers over a rail franchise contract and food labelling on behalf of private companies.

This was denied by the Labour Government.

I would have thought that if an MP took up someone’s case it was because they truly believed it was the right thing to do on the basis of merit.

Sadly it seems that it is on the basis of cash provided.

And we should remember that when an MP is working for someone else at £3,000 to £5,000 a day, they aren’t working for you, the voter.

Ideally, the minimum tariff for abuse should be 10 years.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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