Monday, January 26, 2009

On whose behalf do they legislate?

If this is true, it’s a disgrace:

Lord Taylor of Blackburn… allegedly admitted that he had once helped to change the law on behalf of a client. The peer allegedly offered to conduct a "behind the scenes" campaign on behalf of the fictitious businessman to persuade ministers and officials. A £120,000 retainer was discussed. Taylor allegedly said: "I will work within the rules, but the rules are meant to be bent sometimes."
Lord Truscott… allegedly said he had helped an energy client worried about the energy bill. Truscott, who discussed a £72,000 fee, said he had to be a "bit careful" and could not table any amendments himself. He told the undercover reporters: "I can work with you over it ... identifying people and following it ... meeting people, talking to people to facilitate the amendment and making sure the thing is granted."
Lord Moonie… allegedly offered, in return for an annual fee of £30,000, to contact John Healey, the local government minister and to identify people who could amend the legislation;
Lord Snape… allegedly offered to help for a fee of up to £24,000 a year. "Depending on who is on the Commons committee, if I had a chat I could see if I could get them to table an amendment in committee," he said.

Of course the Lords Committee for Privileges will have an inquiry into this, and perhaps the police will too. But what also needs to happen is for the Labour whips to find out from the peers themselves whether these reports are accurate – never mind that it was “entrapment” – and, if so, to withdraw the whip from the four of them (if the reported quotes are accurate, I can’t see what any mitigating context might be). This needs to happen very quickly. Today, please.

What’s more, as Paulie says, we should be taking Lords reform a lot more seriously. Neil Hamilton’s only virtue was that the voters could kick him out.

1 comment:

anticant said...

See Craig Murray's blog for lots more background on Lord Taylor of Blackburn - and Jack Straw.