The Conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord Snape, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn - Privileges Committee Contents

Lord Snape—Hansard Transcripts

Telephone Call to Lord Snape ("PS") from "Claire Taylor" ("Woman") of the Sunday Times, Tuesday 20 January 2009

Telephone CD1 page 23 of 28

  PS: Peter Snape.

  Woman: Hello Lord Snape, it's Clare Taylor here calling from Michael Johnson Associates.

  PS: Oh, hi.

  Woman: Hello, sorry I missed your call last night.

  PS: That's okay.

  Woman: Yes, it was just a call slightly out of the blue, I suppose. I work for a company called Michael Johnson Associates. We are a kind of public affairs/communications company and we're looking to kind of expand our public affairs network, I suppose, in London. We haven't really done that much, erm, PA work here before. And I had a researcher do some work to kind of identify people with consultancy experience who might be interested in maybe working with us on a consultancy kind of basis and your name came up. So I was just wanting to speak to you about whether that's the kind of thing you're interested in. I think you do some work for a consultancy. Is that right?

  PS: Yes, I have my own.

  Woman: Oh, right, okay.

  PS: It's usually in the transport field [inaudible] that's my area of supposed expertise.

  Woman: [laughs] But would you be interested in doing some work for another company or might it work, I suppose, if we had some, erm, you know, the right kind of work to freelance out to you guys?

  PS: Yes, that would be helpful, but [inaudible]

  Woman: Yes, yeah that would be good. Are you around next week?

  PS: Yes, I am. Just let me get my diary.

  Woman: Okay.

  PS: Just a second. ... How would Thursday suit?

  Woman: Yes, Thursday would be okay. What kind of time?

  PS: Late morning?

  Woman: Yes, okay. So, about 11-ish?

Telephone CD1 page 24 of 28

  PS: 11 would be fine, yes. Do you want to come to me or do you want me to go to you?

  Woman: Erm, it doesn't really matter, I suppose. Let me just have a look where I'm going to be first thing in the morning. ... Well, actually I'm quite near Whitehall, so shall I pop to the Lords, if that's okay?

  PS: Well, yes, my office is actually just round the corner ...

  Woman: Oh, okay.

  PS: ... from the Lords. It's on the corner of, er, I usually get this wrong, Great Peter Street and Little Peter Street. I'm sorry, it's Great College Street and Little College Street. There's so many of them round there.

  Woman: Yes, I know.

  PS: I get mixed up with Great College and Little College.

  Woman: Okay. Where should I come to? What's the exact address?

  PS: I haven't given it you yet. It's called Fielden House.

  Woman: Fielden House?

  PS: F-I-E-L-D-E-N, yes. It's above the door. It's very easy to see. As you're turning off the Embankment you'll be able to see into Great College Street, you can see it on the corner facing you. I mean, it's the first corner of Great College Street. Opposite there's a car park on the right-hand side, an underground car park on the right-hand side.

  Woman: Okay.

  PS: It's almost opposite, in fact, the exit from Black Rod's Garden in the House of Lords.

  Woman: All right, okay, brilliant. Well, I'll see you there at 11 then on Thursday.

  PS: I'll tell security to expect you. My office is on the third floor, but I'll come down and pick you up.

  Woman: Okay, that's great. Thanks. See you then. Bye.

  [end of call]

Meeting of Lord Snape ("PS") with "Claire Taylor" ("Woman") and "David Thompson" ("Man") of the Sunday Times at Fielden House, Thursday 22 January 2009

Lord Snape Meeting page 1 of 33

  Male voice 1: They go one way and (inaudible) the other way. That's all to do with the (inaudible, but could be "computer")

  Woman: Hello. We're here to see Lord Snape.

  Male voice 1: Lord?

  Woman: Snape.

  Male voice 1: Right. And your name is?

  Woman: Clare Taylor and David Thompson. He says he is going to be here at 11.30. I don't know what time it is.

  Male voice 1: Yeah, I'll see if he's on his way (he is speaking on the phone) Hello. You've got a couple of visitors. Thank you.

  Female voice: Thanks.

  Man: Shall we go through this way (inaudible)? (someone is whistling)

  Male voice 1: Come this way, please. (Inaudible ... movement)

  (Inaudible chatter ... Lord Snape has not yet arrived voices at some distance from microphone)

  PS: Good morning.

  Woman: Hello.

  PS: I'm Lord Snape.

  Woman: Hello. Clare Taylor ... This is David Thompson, one of our directors.

  Man: Hi, nice to meet you.

  Woman: We're just waiting to go through this security thing.

  Man: You don't have to do this, presumably.

  PS: Er ... no, no. They trust me not to blow myself up. It's everybody else that they're concerned about.

Lord Snape Meeting page 2 of 33

  Male Voice: Have they got to go through the security or not?.

  Male voice: Yes.

  (A lot of background chatter, movement of the microphone)

  Male voice, security guard?) Can you go back a bit.

  Woman: On the feet.

  [they are having photos taken for visitor passes]

  Male Voice: Yes. It's slightly better than the other one I used.

  (Movement of the microphone, general chatter)

  Woman: Thank you.

  Male voice: It needs to warm up first.

  Woman: Oh, OK ... like a photocopier.

  (Chatter. Sound of a machine whirring)

  Male voice security guard?: Here we go. There you are.

  Woman: Thank you.

  Male voice security guard?: That's OK.

  Man: Thank you.

  (Movement of the microphone, lots of background noise)

  Man: Is this whole building Lords offices?.

  PS: It is yes, yes. Fairly new. Most of us had desks, you know, across at the House, but er ...

  Man: But then you had to share, or do you have to share here as well?

  PS: We have to share here as well. My colleague and I work it between us so that normally if one's in, the other one isn't.

  Woman: So you can divide it up.

Lord Snape Meeting page 3 of 33

  PS: Yeah. He runs a property company anyway, so he's not here as often.

  Woman: Oh, that's okay.

  PS: And, of course, there are a couple of coffee machines here ["Third Floor, Doors Opening"] we can always use.

  PS: I'm at the younger end of the House of Lords. Believe it or not, I thought of as a young'un in the House of Lords.

  Unknown male voice: Hello, good morning.

  PS: If there's a vote in the House, you know, it's seven or eight minutes to get over there.

  Man: Oh, you've got a terrific view, haven't you?

  PS: Yes

  Man: Bet you've got the best office in the building. Well, I guess there's one or two above.

  PS: Yes, it is quite nice, isn't it?

  Woman: Yes, lovely.


  Man: What are they doing to the car park down there?

  PS: Er, they're doing something. Westminster Council are doing something, I'm not sure. There'll be some building up there eventually.

  Man: Wasn't there an underground car park?

  PS: Yes, it's still there. I mean, various Peers are silly enough to drive their cars in London and sometimes park it there.

  Man: I know. I know.

  PS: I make a habit of not driving in London for obvious reasons.

  Woman: Yes, exactly. Too horrific.

  Man: It's years since I have driven in London. I stopped just before the congestion charge [inaudible]

Lord Snape Meeting page 4 of 33

  PS: I bring my car down at Christmas if I want to take a few souvenirs back with me. But I think I've only brought mine down twice since the congestion charge started. Around here, you've got to pay and my daughter, who lives in London, hadn't realised that she'd passed through one corner of the congestion charge. Of course, if you don't pay within 24 hours or something, it's 100 quid or something.

  Woman: Oh no.

  PS: Yeah. [inaudible] Ignorance is no excuse, these days.

  Man: Especially if you go through a corner.

  PS: She lives in *** and she had been somewhere and was just driving back there and she must have just clipped the corner.

  Man: Yes, but you don't ... There are big signs up but you don't really clock them, do you?

  PS: No, you don't do you? Especially if it's only a few yards.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: You think it's something else.

  Man: Also, in London, there are so many distracting things, so many lights and different little distractions ...

  Woman: Buses.

  PS: Yes.

  Man: Now, I'll try to explain who we are. [Laughter]. We're from a company called Michael Johnson Associates. We were initially a public affairs company in Brussels and we set up an office here in the UK in 2002. Initially we did sort of financial PR, but more recently we've been doing public affairs work. And we were looking for somebody who could help us out in the House there. And I think what happened was that our researcher, Linda, did some research—

  Woman: Yes, she identified a couple of people who she thought might be interested in this kind of work or who were kind of familiar with it and your name came up.

  PS: Ah.

  Man: Which is why we're coming to see you.

Lord Snape Meeting page 5 of 33

  PS: Right.

  Man: In particular, we've got one client who's a far eastern client who came to us initially because he was one of our Brussels clients. He's a man called Lu Li Jiang. He's an entrepreneur from Hong Kong and he exports leather goods—a lot of shoes actually—to the European Union. We did some work with him on shoe import tariffs, which is how he came to us. But more recently, he's now in a consortium with a company called Won King. I won't expect you to remember all these—

  PS: No.

  Man: But they're a Taiwanese company who have big retail interests throughout the Far East actually. If you lived in the Far East you'd know them like you'd know Marks & Spencer's. But—

  PS: I was in the Taiwan actually last year.

  Woman: Oh.

  Man: Really?

  PS: Yes. I didn't come across them. I did get some railway knowledge.

  Man: When I say retail, they're in clothing retail.

  PS: Yes.

  Man: The purpose of this consortium is to set up something called Emerald (?), which over the next 18 months is going to be setting up 40 retail shops—quite substantial shops—across the UK.

  PS: Are they sure about their timing?

  Woman: Well

  Man: Certainly there'll be available buildings I think is probably about all you can say—

  PS: Yes, well Woolworths have got one or two very good places.

  Woman: Yes.

  Man: Exactly. I've said this to other people. If you imagine—do you know the shop Uniqlo? It's got quite a high-street presence at the moment.

Lord Snape Meeting page 6 of 33

  PS: I have to tell you that's my wife's department. We have an agreement that she does the shopping and I [inaudible].

  Man: So if you think, say, Gap and you think slightly, a similar sort of clothing, but actually they're more competitively priced, as Uniqlo are, that's the sort of market they're aiming for. And they were looking for someone to help them do parliamentary work in relation to any problems, any issues that they identify as they set up this group of retail shops across the country. Now, one thing that they identified, which would come into effect just as they were opening, would be something called the Business Rates Supplement Bill.

  PS: Hmm, hmm.

  Man: I don't know—I wouldn't expect you to be familiar with it necessarily, but you may be, I don't know. In effect, what it does is that it allows local councils to levy an extra 2% charge on the business rates on properties over £50,000.


  And since all the properties are likely to be over £50,000—and we're talking about quite substantial retail outlets—then they will become liable for the tax. The tax itself has been quite unpopular with people like the CBI, the federation of private business and other organisations.

  PS: The money's hypothecated for some purpose, isn't it?

  Man: Yes. The whole purpose if it seems to be— The tax was suggested by the Lyons report, but it seems to have been taken on by the Government specifically for Crossrail, really.

  PS: Mmm.

  Man: But the Bill doesn't provide just for Crossrail. It allows local councils to use it across at country level. Of course, the fear is that the local council will use it as a way of raising money. But, I mean, it has to be hypothecated. It has to be identified for specific schemes.

  PS: Specific schemes. Yeah. Sure.

  Man: And one of the things we were looking for help on—and it's an issue that Mr Jiang's people have identified to us early on—is that they would quite like to see if we could amend it so that its onerous tax would not necessarily affect business. So, for example, I know that quite a lot of groups such as the CBI have been looking to, say, give retailers and businesses who will be liable for the tax a vote on whether they should pay the tax.

  PS: Yeah.

  Man: I don't know whether in the end the Government will buy that, but that's one option.

Lord Snape Meeting page 7 of 33

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: I think that given the congestion charge experience it's the last option the Government [inaudible].

  Man: They just kicked it into touch, didn't they?

  PS: Turkeys not voting for Christmas.

  Man: The other is, and it may well be more realistic and it would be useful for our client, would be that you had a two-year exemption on paying the tax for any new business. The argument would be that it's a particularly difficult time for any business to start.

  PS: Yes.

  Man: It's bad enough as it is starting, and therefore you should have— And so we were hoping that we might be able to amend it to include a clause such as that. Now, the question is, I mean, you know, what we would do is pay you on a retainer as a consultant to, in effect, help us amend this Bill. Now, is that something a) you would do, or b) you would be able to do?

  PS: I don't think I would. The problem about having a direct financial interest is that one is not supposed to initiate legislation which would benefit the person who gives you or pays you this financial interest. So, you know, if I specifically worked for your company, for example, then I'd need to take advice, as these people are your clients, as to whether or not I could amend it. I certainly couldn't do it if I was working directly for the client themselves.

  Man: Right.

  PS: But I'd need to take advice.

  Man: Oh, I see. So if you were working for Michael Johnson Associates you might be able to do it but not if—

  PS: Not if I were working directly for the person or industry concerned. That's off the top of my head and I would have thought that's the way the rules would be interpreted. For example, I played quite a prominent role in local government transport Bill that's just gone through, but I could do so because I was talking about exemptions for the specific bus industry, although I worked for First Group which is declared in the Register of Members' Interests.

  Man: Yes.

Lord Snape Meeting page 8 of 33

  PS: So provided I made that declaration, then I could amend, let us say, what I liked and I would have thought, although I will take advice from the Registrar of Members' Interests in the Lords, that I feel that would also appertain if I worked for your company rather than specifically ...

  Man: Yes.

  PS: I might well have to declare that you have certain clients involved in this particular field.

  Woman: That's before—well, speaking in the House you'd have to declare that.

  PS: Yes, and put it in the Register.

  Woman: And put it in the register.

  PS: Yes.

  Woman: What kind of consulting—when we spoke on the phone you said you've got your own consulting agency.

  PS: When I left the House of Commons in 2001 I was working for National Express on a virtually full-time basis. I was chairman of their bus division for some time and their main bus subsidiary was based in Birmingham, which is where my former constituency was.


  So I was not anxious to go straight from the Commons to the Lords, a) because I had virtually a full-time job and b) I'd had enough of politics to be honest—you know, I wanted a break from the whole thing. National Express at that time had made an unwise choice of trying to run Melbourne's trams as well as those in Sydney and southern Perth, so I was flying backwards and forwards. I was out for three years, yeah; I was in the second batch of peerages created after the 2001 election, so I had a break. So I formed this consultancy while I was out, although it is virtually—although I sort of do nil returns for tax purposes. I am now directly employed [inaudible] I am employed as a consultant by First Group, `cause I couldn't get on with the new chief executive of the National Express Group, and they haven't—you know, I'm 66—I don't particularly want, you know, to be working seven days a week. I can, sort of, re-inter my original consultancy, or else I could work as an individual for you or for anybody else, as I do. I have three different companies that I work for at the present time, which I declare. I am sure that you went to the Register of Members' Interests.

  Woman: Yeah, I had a quick look, yeah.

  Man: So you're employed—First Group employ you, but you could—

  PS: I am actually self-employed. First Group pay me a retainer—

Lord Snape Meeting page 9 of 33

  Woman: To be a consultant.

  PS: Yeah, to be a consultant to them, at a daily rate when I am sort of at their office in Aberdeen, so [inaudible] They have an office in Paddington.

  Woman: Oh, okay.

  Man: Sorry, I must have missed it. They employ you—

  PS: I am actually self-employed.

  Man: You are paid a fee by them.

  PS: Yeah.

  Man: And would you be able to amend legislation for First Group?

  PS: Not specifically, but I can amend legislation which applies to the bus industry, provided I declare an interest first.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: I mean, I couldn't say, for example, let's say First Group—First Great Western—I couldn't get some exemption or do something specifically on rail fares, for example, on First Great Western.

  Man: Right.

  PS: Because I would be initiating legislation for a company from which I am paid, which would be improper under the rules of the House.

  Man: I see.

  PS: But if I was wanting to exempt the whole of the railway industry from some particular clause I could do so on the grounds that, you know, this is for the public good or the benefit of the industry rather than one specific client.

  Man: I see. I see. I see. So, in our instance, you could, for example, argue that the exemption was for the general business—

  PS: A newly set-up business anywhere in the country ought to be exempt from this supplementary rate because of the high cost of starting up and the need for Government to encourage small businesses—small and large—in the current economic situation.

Lord Snape Meeting page 10 of 33

  Man: Well, in that case, so would you therefore—I mean, it matters not to us whether you are representing us or whether you are representing our client. It would be whatever's more convenient for you, really.

  PS: Well, the obvious question that the Registrar would ask me would be, "Who's paying you?" So it would have to be either yourself—again, it doesn't particularly matter to me provided I can do it on a blanket basis, but I could not, sort of, as I said earlier, represent your client in this and say, "There should be an exemption for this particular company because of" [inaudible] or whatever.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: I could well argue, I'm sure, under the rules, that there should be an exemption for new businesses from the extra business rate.

  Man: Right, I see. And, because actually in terms of who pays, it's a question of whether they pay you directly or whether we pay you. It could go either way.

  PS: Yeah.

  Man: That's something that we can arrange whatever, I guess.

  PS: I probably should know this but I don't. At what stage is the legislation at the present time?

  Man: Second Reading in the Commons last week.

  PS: Oh, okay. A lot more time, then.

  Woman: Yeah.

  Man: And it's currently in Committee at the moment, actually, I think. I think there's a sort of—

  Woman: In Committee at the Commons.

  Man: Yeah.

  PS: Well, yeah. I mean, they've got to allow something like 10 parliamentary days between Second Reading and Committee stage, so they may well have set the Committee up. Why not approach a Member of the House of Commons who's involved in the detail? The trouble is, by the time it gets to the Lords, it has had a bit of a kicking around in the Commons, and, sort of, attitudes have set and can be intransigent. You can still amend things in the Lords, but, I

Lord Snape Meeting page 11 of 33

  mean, it wouldn't be a bad idea if you've got somebody to at least float the idea in the Commons.

  Woman: To do work on it in the Commons as well.

  PS: Yeah, yeah.

  Woman: Is that something you would be able to do? I don't know how good your contacts are in the Commons, or if you think it's better for you to concentrate on the Lords because you're in the Lords?


  PS: Well, I mean, I know lots of Members of the House of Commons. I was there for many years. When you're out for two elections, there's suddenly all these young people wandering around [inaudible]. I would need to look at the Committee. I mean, it wouldn't be any problem. I can see who's on the Committee, anybody I could sort of approach and say ... To do that, I'd need something from you outlining these proposals.

  Woman: Yes, of course, yeah.

  PS: So that I could say, look, you know, I've had this idea, or I've been approached about this idea. You know, I think we'd have to do it a bit more professionally than that. But, I mean, depending on who was on the Commons Committee I'd have a chat and see whether I could get them to table an amendment in Committee. I mean, it'd be better if you could get a government person to do it, purely in political terms, but you could possibly get a member of the Opposition. I mean, they're always looking for amendments to table anyway because, you know, Oppositions have got to debate these things and come up with different ideas. It sounds the sort of idea that the Conservative Opposition would be—the Liberals, perhaps, as well on the Committee—would be interested in pushing.

  Man: The overall Minister is Hazel Blears, but it's actually being done by John Healey, a junior Minister.

  PS: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, again, I could approach him, you know, sort of behind the scenes to say, you know, "This is the purpose behind this amendment—look at it."

  Woman: Yeah, "What do you think?".

  PS: I wouldn't get a concrete thing one way or another. He'll take it away and the civil servants will give him 16 reasons why it shouldn't be done, but [inaudible] it appears to me to be an eminently sensible idea anyway, given the current economic circumstances in particular, yeah. I mean, getting it debated in Committee would be useful, if only to get the Government's view and see how sympathetic they are. And, of course, in the Lords—Committee stage in the Lords is always on the Floor of the House. I mean, it's slightly different procedure from the Commons where it's kicked upstairs into, you know, a

Lord Snape Meeting page 12 of 33

  Committee Room. We do legislation on the Floor of the House. I don't know whether you've ever been into the Lords.

  Woman: No.

  PS: Debates are not particularly well attended, and the Government of course doesn't have a majority, so—I think we've got 216 Members, the Tories have about 208, there are 70-odd Liberals, and 200 and odd Cross-Benchers. Again, if you got a few of them interested in matters like this, they can lean on the Government, because the Government never wants to be defeated in the House, `cos it means the legislation's got to go back to the Commons.

  Woman: Yeah, it gets kicked back.

  PS: Lords amendments are struck out, it's sent back to us, so they're usually anxious to—it's much easier in a way to get a compromise in the Lords, because of the lack of a government majority. If, even in Committee, even at an early stage in Committee, if Ministers indicated they'd look at the idea, which is what they normally say if they're not going to throw it out completely, then that'd sort of suggest that perhaps it'd be included in debate in the Lords/on the clause ??, in which case they'd amend it themselves if that was their—[inaudible] table a government amendment, you know, if they accepted the idea in principle.

  Man: But they would, so we wouldn't actually have to put down an amendment in that—

  PS: In those circumstances that I've just outlined, no. If the Government's indicated that they were sympathetic to it, they quite often say, well, rather—if it's been debated first in the Committee in the Commons, the Government quite often say, "Well, we'll look at it and see what we can do on Report stage". If they're still discussing it at Report stage, they can amend it in the Lords—they will amend it themselves in the Lords if, you know, they're prepared to accept it, rather than be seen to be forced into it when it gets up the corridor.

  Man: I see, I see. So how do, in the first instance, how do you make sure it's discussed in Committee?

  PS: You get somebody to table an amendment, fairly simply [inaudible]

  Woman: To the Committee.

  PS: Well, any Member of the Committee, you see, can table an amendment at any stage—24 hours' notice it'll appear on the Order Paper, and of course you're dependent on the Chairman of the Committee selecting it for debate. There's not normally a problem about that, but it's obviously relevant—just to stop people tacking things on to Bills that have no real purpose as far as that Bill is concerned, so the Chairman can say, "I'm not debating that", but, I mean, [inaudible]

Lord Snape Meeting page 13 of 33

  Man: And would you be, do you think you'd be able to get it, given that you want to, I don't know, would you be able to get an amendment tabled on the Committee, do you think?

  PS: Yes, I mean, I'd get somebody to do it, yeah, I mean.

  Woman: I didn't know how straightforward it would be to—

  PS: Well, everyone's always looking for ideas. The problem for Back-Benchers is—Government Back-Benchers in particular are encouraged to do their mail on Committee and not speak, `cause they've got [inaudible] to get this legislation through [inaudible], whereas Opposition Back-Benchers always want to cut their teeth in Committee and impress the Whips and the shadow Minister on there, so they want to be coming up with ideas. Again, I mean, it's important not to get too political in Committee.


  If you got an Opposition person to table such an amendment, you wouldn't want them to say, "Typical of this Government, damaging business. This is a good idea that will help save business money". And, you know, what you need is somebody to say, "Given the economic situation, maybe this is an idea the Government should look at". So, you know, you pick people incred...—reasonably carefully.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: If you want people to just lark around???, then fine. But if your purpose is to get legislation changed then you've got to compromise and you've got to get ...

  Woman: Well that's your objective, isn't it? Rather than bashing the Government.

  PS: Not always, if it's a Committee, but ... [inaudible]

  Woman: [Laughs] No, but it's certainly our objective.

  PS: Yeah, sure.

  Woman: We don't want the Government to be bashed, we just want the legislation changed.

  Man: Yeah, absolutely. Also, there are two Committee stages, aren't there? So presumably you might be better off doing it in the Lords. Because presumably ... I don't know, I don't ...

  PS: Well, the Committee stage in the Lords, as I said, is taken on the Floor of the House. Now, the Government's trying to persuade their people not to table too many amendments, because a) they make a guess at how long Committee stage is going to be. Like the Banking Bill, which is very controversive [sic] at this stage. I think we've done four days on it so far because, you know, there are so many amendments, many of them tabled by the Government themselves. [Inaudible] Legislation is poorly drafted to start with. But I mean something like

Lord Snape Meeting page 14 of 33

  this, I mean I'm guessing, er, there'd be I would guess two Bills that particular day, so they'd want this through in maybe three or four hours.

  Man: Right.

  PS: As far as the Lords Committee stage is concerned, I mean in the Commons it doesn't particularly matter. You know, they hazard a guess when they sit in Committee, "How long will this take? Let's say two weeks", or something like that. But they normally only met Tuesdays and Thursdays, you know, for Committee stage in the Commons, unless it's something particularly controversial, in which case they'll meet Tuesday, Thursday afternoon and other days too. So I would have thought ... I do not know how big the Bill is, I mean, I can get a copy of it from downstairs, but, er, is there much in ... Have you seen the actual printed copy of the Bill?

  Man: Yes, but I can't remember how many pages it was.

  Woman: No, I haven't seen it. I don't think it's particularly massive. I haven't got that impression anyway.

  Man: No, the only thing that I was just thinking was that I think it goes out at ... The last day of Committee stage is early February sometime. It's just that we didn't have an awful lot of time, that's all.

  PS: Is that right?

  Man: I think that's about ...

  PS: Ah. Er. What's the name of the actual Bill? Can you tell me?

  Man: It's the Business Rates (Supplement) Bill.


  PS: I'm having lunch with the Shadow Minister for the West Midlands. I wonder whether she will lend me a copy of the Bill.


  PS: Business Rates Supplementary Bill?

  Woman: Yeah.

  Man: Business Rates Supplements Bill, I think.

Lord Snape Meeting page 15 of 33

  PS: Yes.


  PS: [on phone] Hi, is Belinda there? It's Peter Snape. No, OK, I'll try her on her mobile. Thanks very much. Bye bye.


  PS: Somewhere, when I came in, I put my phone.

  Woman: [Laughs]

  Man: Oh, your mobile?

  PS: Yeah.

  Man: Er ....

  PS: I think that's one of the numbers that's on there.

  Man: It's there. I can see it's under that piece of paper. Right next to your left hand.

  Woman: [Laughs]

  PS: I used to have lots of assistants when I was in the House of Commons.

  Woman: Yeah, I bet.

  PS: Doing it all myself. Very difficult.



  PS: [phone call] I thought you might be. The way you were whispering, yes. Can you make it as far as the door without upsetting anybody? Okay. You are out there. We are lunching today. Well, as part of my happiness about that, I wonder if I could ask you, or one of your many minions to bring me a copy of the, or to bring with you, a copy of the Business Rates Supplementary Bill. Is that all right? Okay. Well, I'll explain later. Right, right. So can you drop by my office on the way? Because if we're going across the road then it's handy isn't it. Okay, you're anticipating a vote then. Okay. Is this all [inaudible] of your expenses bill? Very sensible. Okay, just hanging up. Thanks very much. [end of phone call] They just went for a vote or she said she'd send somebody over with it now, anyway she'll bring it over on her way.

Lord Snape Meeting page 16 of 33

  Woman: Great.

  Man: Who's that?

  PS: Lynda Waltho. She's the MP for Stourbridge. She's newly just appointed, the Prime Minister's just appointed her as regional Minister for the West Midlands.

  Man: I see.

  PS: It's the sort of thing that she might be interested in anyway.

  Woman: Yes.

  Man: Yes.

  PS: She's anxious to be seen on the side of business.

  Man: It sounds like something you'd take up on our behalf.

  PS: Well, I'd certainly look at it, yes. It's quite, er, interesting. I think it's something worthwhile.

  Man: Yes.

  Woman: Mmm.

  Man: I suppose the other question for us is, in terms of, a bit of an embarrassing question—

  PS: Yes.

  Woman: [Laughter] Yes.

  Man: We're thinking monthly retainer, I don't know, which, I think, is the normal way of doing these things. Is that right?.

  PS: It is, yes, yes.

  Man: Just tell us—

  Woman: What do you normally charge?

  PS: I charge a thousand pounds a month or ?five? hundred pounds a day.

Lord Snape Meeting page 17 of 33

  Woman: Okay.

  PS: That's my normal rate??

  Woman: How many days do you think you would need to dedicate to this and also that you have available to dedicate?

  PS: About one or two a month, I would have thought. ??Not that it matters??; one probably.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: Let you know the number of hours I've spent on it. I'm not like a solicitor, where every phone call—

  Woman: Yes, totting it up.

  Man: So, for us it would be, sort of, it would be twelve grand as a sort of, and then say you did two days a month.

  PS: Yes.

  Man: That would be another twelve grand.

  PS: Yes.

  Man: In effect. Yes, yes.

  PS: Something like this wouldn't take me two days a month I wouldn't have thought.

  Woman: Mmm.

  Man: So it might be cheaper than that?

  PS: Yes.

  Man: Well, thank you.

  PS: It certainly wouldn't be any dearer than that.

  Woman: Okay.

  PS: Mind you, if it was some complicated undertaking ...

  Woman: Yeah.

Lord Snape Meeting page 18 of 33

  PS: ... then I'd come back and tell you.

  Woman: [Laughter]

  PS: I wouldn't just bill you [inaudible]

  Man: In this case it is basically just to get this amendment.

  PS: Right, right.

  Man: Favourably for our client.

  PS: Yes, sure. I couldn't give any guarantees for obvious reasons.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: I've no idea what the Government's view is, but I mean, I'll find out and I'll sort of talk to, you know, one or two people and see what they say. It appears to me an eminently sensible thing. As I said to you earlier, no doubt civil servants will find all sorts of reasons not to do it.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: They will recommend not to do it because that's the way they work.

  Woman: Is it worth speaking to the Bill team at all, do you think?

  PS: What, the civil servants?

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: Yes, it is if you know anybody. I mean—

  Woman: Well no, unfortunately I don't. [Laughter]

  PS: I'm not sure whether I do. I mean, I'd have to use some of my contacts to find out who they are.

  Woman: Find out who they are first, yeah.

  PS: I mean, they are ??a little bit?? more important than the politicians in my experience.

  Woman: Yeah.

Lord Snape Meeting page 19 of 33

  Man: Mmm.

  PS: If you can persuade them, then you know you are half way there.

  Woman: Yeah.


  I wouldn't off the top of my head think I'd have, you know, many direct contacts with people ... I specialise in transport and they are the people, you know, I see behind the scenes. But they're not normally averse to lunch somewhere, you know. ??It's been said?? they're so poorly paid they can't afford to eat in the places MPs eat in, I think. I can't see it myself. But, I mean, I could find out through ... I don't again off the top of my head know who John Healey's parliamentary private secretary is, but he or she would be a reasonably junior MP.

  Woman: Yes.

  PS: That's normally the way to the civil servants and I'll say, look, you know, this is what I want to do. It's for a client I'm working for.

  Woman: Yes

  PS: Anyone I talk to who looks, you know, in the Minister's team.

  Man and Woman: Yes.

  Woman: That would be good.

  PS: And, you know, if it's something reasonable then they'll look at it and take it away. As I say, they can always think of objections that wouldn't cross anybody else's mind, but that's the Civil Service for you.

  Woman: [laughing] Yes.

  PS: Well, many of them are very good. You know, I think they're much maligned, and if they know what Ministers want to do, they are good at implementing or drafting the legislation that would enable them to implement what they want to do. The trouble is, lots of Ministers don't know what they want to do, or they've only got vague ideas. Mostly in my experience, people say, "I want to do this". I mean, they might say, "Well, that's courageous, Minister, which, if you watch "Yes Minister", means you're pretty crazy and foolhardy and [inaudible].

  Man and Woman: Yes (laughing)

Lord Snape Meeting page 20 of 33

  PS: But, you know, I think they are very good at what they do. And, as I say, they are at least as important, if not more so than the politicians. Get them on side and, you know, they see the politicians every day. We see each other fleetingly.

  Woman: Yes.

  Man: Um, well I think that sort of covers it, doesn't it, really?.

  Woman: Yes.

  PS: Can you tell me more about your company? The only Michael Johnson Associates I know of is Australian and they're quite big in Australia. I thought maybe that's where you got your name from.

  Man: Where we're from? No, no. Michael Johnson is actually a company that was set up by an American called Michael Johnson. He said that he had an office in Washington and he had an office in Brussels. He now also has an office in Hong Kong as well. But he's now retired. He's no longer ... I mean, he still owns the business.

  PS: [Inaudible]

  Man: And certainly in Europe most of his work has been with the European Parliament in Brussels and the European Commission, whereas he has been trying to sort of establish ... we've been trying to establish a business here in the UK, which initially we did as sort of corporate communications for, um, all sorts of, er, clients. I mean people like, say, have you ever heard of Trevor Hemmings, the man who basically owns Blackpool. He owns Blackpool leisure parks and things like that.

  PS: I thought it was David Hemmings who (inaudible).

  Woman: (laughter)

  PS: You have my sympathies. Fortunately the Labour Party doesn't have to meet there any more. A meeting every two years.

  Man: We have a number of ... we have some high-profile clients, reasonably high-profile clients like him, and we have some businesses. We've done work for a couple of airlines, haven't we? And, um, but we wanted to branch out into public affairs as a new area for our business. So we're not necessarily very, sort of, experienced in this area. Our background, both our backgrounds, really, are not public affairs.

  Woman: PR, really.

Lord Snape Meeting page 21 of 33

  Man: So as much as anything, having a relationship with a consultant in Parliament would be very useful to us because I mean it helps us ... it shows us ... you know, we make assumptions and they're not always as ... [inaudible] it suits.

  PS: Right.

  Man: Er...

  Woman: It's just important, really, to know how it all works, I suppose, which is something, you know, that you're very familiar with, and as outsiders, we're not. Even, you know, identifying who people are and having a relationship with those people.

  PS: I spent my formative years in the Whips Office in the 1970s. I don't suppose you two were born. We discovered to our amazement in 1974 that we were elected. I mean, we didn't expect to be elected given the whole history of the miners' strike and all the rest of it. So I spent about a year on the Back Benches and I was a whip for four years to the famous vote of confidence that we managed to lose by one in 1979. One thing about the Whips' Office is it does teach you how the place works.

  Woman: Yes.

  PS: A lot of my colleagues, I mean ... Amazing some of the people who were in the Cabinet, in Jim Callaghan's Cabinet, and had no idea. People like Michael Foot, who was lovely but, you know, a nice guy, but with no idea of how Parliament worked. But he'd been here for 30 years but he'd never done any committee work. He was one of these great broad-brush ... a great broad-brush man and a terrific orator. But then they made him Leader of the House of Commons and he hadn't the faintest idea of what he was meant to do.


  It was a fascinating time, as you can imagine. In fact somebody just sent me Kenneth Morgan's biography of Michael Foot, which says that his campaign against Denis Healey, when he ran for the leadership of the Labour Party was going nowhere until these three Back-Benchers, Neil Kinnock, Peter Snape and Jim Marshall took over running his campaign and he won. One of my colleagues, a man called George Howarth, who is one of the Liverpool MPs, said to me, he'd just been reading this you see, he said "Didn't you propose Michael Martin for the chair before you left the Commons. I said, "I did". He said "Michael Foot? Michael Martin? You've done more damage to the Labour Party than the bloody Tories". A long time ago.

  Man: Didn't you have the transport brief for a while?

  PS: Yes, 10 years. Yes I was going to be Minister of Transport had we won in 1992, which we expected to do. Either that or chief whip. I quite fancied the job of chief whip. But I'd seen Neil Kinnock. We'd got a meeting in Birmingham about three days before polling day when we still had a lead in the polls. He said I haven't made my mind up yet. I know you've

Lord Snape Meeting page 22 of 33

  done transport for 10 years, do you fancy doing something else?" I said "Well, not particularly. What have you in mind?" "We need people in the whips office. We need a chief whip it's going to be tight and all the rest of it." I said let's talk. We might as well wait till after Thursday. Then of course, he resigned immediately because we didn't win and John Smith rang me up and said, "Are you going to carry on?" I said "I'm not, no. I've been offered a job outside". Originally as a non-executive director for a company called West Midlands Travel which is a stand-alone ex-municipal bus undertaking and I was the only person. It was employee-owned at the time. I was the only person that the trade union and management side could agree on ... It was an employee-owned company and they needed at least two independent non-execs and I was the one in fact that they could agree on. So I said I can't obviously do that and be on the front bench as the transport spokesman. He said "Well you can for a year, he said, just don't do any buses. The rules were a bit more lax than they are now, so I did both jobs for about a year. Then we became part of the National Express group. I think the Tories took ???a man on the board??? So I expected them to say goodbye anyway. Anyway, to my astonishment, they asked me to stay on and they made me chairman of the bus division, a job I did for four years.

  Man: When did you stand down as an MP then?

  PS: 2001 [inaudible] The then chief executive moved on, a bloke called Phil Whiting. I'd fallen out with his successor on the Strategic Rail Authority, Richard Bowker. They approached the chief executive ...

  Man: So you were made Lord presumably by Tony Blair, I guess?

  PS: Yes yes yes. I indicated to you earlier, I could have gone straight from the Commons to the Lords. I was actually in Australia when the 2001 election was postponed because of the foot and mouth thing. So I'd arranged, everybody knew, it was no secret that it would be 3 May so I'd arranged this trip to Australia to try and resolve some of our problems we were having with the State Government in Victoria. Of course, when it was postponed I said "Well I'm going anyway as I'm not standing for re-election". So I did a couple of interviews, radio interviews. I never told them I was in Australia because people just ring you on your mobile

  Woman: Yes, exactly.

  PS: I said, "Well I can't get to a phone. You'll just have to do it from here. I got a lot of the information from British newspapers pretending I was still over there. But Australia was a disaster for us. Fortunately I'd taken the precaution of saying, "This is not a good idea", when the board decided they were going to run or try and get into the Australian transport market. I've never understood the City, you know, I look at the share price now of National Express ??? They are down to four quid. It's still the same business it was when it was 13 quid.

Lord Snape Meeting page 23 of 33

  Woman: Oh, God.

  Man: Well look at the banks.

  PS: Absolutely. Mind you, there's a reason for that: I mean the banks are skint. I mean National Express is a very good company. It might be affected by the recession as far as ??train carriage?? But it's not going to go bump. But the City then were urging expansion on everybody so we bought some yellow buses in the United States, which were quite profitable, you know, yellow school buses. But as I said, the Australian market, when I went over there, the unions were just like they were in Britain in the 1970s. I mean that was their general ...

  Woman: I didn't know that about Australia.

  PS: And of course ... I mean it's just as well. Have either of you been to Melbourne?

  Woman & Man: No

  PS: It's a great city I mean I like Australia. My wife knows lots of ??? there and we go there. We were there last August, but they're pretty difficult to deal with, particularly if you're a Pom. So I said, well, you know, we can't import management from the UK [...]


  Woman: Yeah

  PS: You've got to get local people to do it. And the State Government have done a deal to get rid of the conductors on trams and be a one-person operation, which is sort of normal anywhere else in the world, but it took us 18 months, I think, you know, to buy every one of them off individually. The whole thing's a nightmare. But interesting.

  Woman: Are they, are National Express still operating in Australia?.

  PS: No, we just pulled the plug in the end and walked away, gave them the keys back. I mean it cost National Express I think eight million or something like that

  Woman: God

  PS: It was the only way. It was never gonna work.

  Woman: God. Total nightmare then for a couple of years.

  PS: Yeah, I mean I used to go two or three times a year. The chief exec at one stage was going for the weekend, I mean, he would fly out

Lord Snape Meeting page 24 of 33

  Woman: Oh, that's horrendous, isn't it?

  PS: Yeah. take some pills so that he could sleep on the plane.

  Woman: Yeah

  PS: and he was back at his desk on Monday lunchtime. He's going to kill himself.

  Woman: Yeah. It's incredibly tiring.

  PS: Yes, it is, yes.

  Woman: You may as well just stay there for a month, quite frankly.

  PS: Well, I never go for less than three weeks, cos it takes, you know, two or three days to get over it, I mean

  Woman: Yeah

  PS: and how people sit in the back. You know, I mean, business class is comfortable, and you can stretch out. I mean you see whole families going from Heathrow. I mean, it's 26 hours [...]

  Woman: Yeah, it's tough

  Man: My sister lives in Australia,

  PS: Oh, right.

  Man: Up in Queensland, in a place called Noosa.

  PS: Noosa? Wow. Yeah. Yeah

  Man: And we went

  PS: I stayed in a hotel, Tingaramee, or something it was called, right on the ... right on the main street.

  Man: I know Noosa has ... I've not, I mean, I've just stayed with sister, so.

  PS: Did you? The Sheraton is on one side

  Man: My parents have stayed in the Sheraton

Lord Snape Meeting page 25 of 33

  PS: Right, lovely place Noosa. The trouble was, last time I was there, it wasn't last year, it was the year before, we didn't go .... I've been two or three times, there was a jazz festival. I hate jazz, I mean, I hate jazz.

  Man: There was a jazz festival on when I was there.

  PS: Were there?

  Man: We went in August.

  PS: It's probably an annual thing.

  Woman: Yeah, probably

  PS: I mean, trouble is ... it's impossible to have a meal in any of the restaurants without someone

  Woman: Without bing, bing, bing

  PS: So much bloody nonsense down my ear. I mean, my tastes in music don't extend to jazz.

  Man: I did find the flying offputting. I find just being in the air that long, so we split it up by going to Bali.

  PS: Did you?

  Man: Gorgeous. Like heaven.

  PS: Yeah, Yeah.

  Man: If you ever get the chance, you should.

  PS: Well my wife flies Singapore, you see. My wife has expensive taste. Shangri La hotel in Singapore.

  Woman: Oh nice! Shangri Las are amazing.

  PS: Yeah, they are, aren't they? And especially there.

  Woman: Yeah, I bet.

  PS: the service there, terrific. We often break that journey. About five days there last time, but normally, I like to fly all the back and just get it over with.

Lord Snape Meeting page 26 of 33

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: I mean, it's a heck of a journey, isn't it? We got my nephew to pick us up from Heathrow to drive us back to Birmingham. Pretty worn out.

  Woman: Yeah

  Man: Yeah

  Woman: Yeah

  Man: So, have you amended any legislation before on behalf of clients, or?

  PS: Ah. I think we are back to the bus business there. I don't think I've got any specific amendments I could think of. I mean, I've certainly amended legislation as an Opposition spokesman but not on behalf of clients, so, I mean,

  Man: But you don't foresee any difficulties here?

  PS: Well, I don't know whether the Government will agree to it. I mean, you know, actually if the Government agree to it, that sort of amendment, because they do it, you know, for you

  Woman: What, they do it kind of in draft stages or something?

  PS: Yeah, yeah. I mean, what you need to do, I'll discuss the sort of ... draw up—whether you do it yourself or you can get a parliamentary agent or if it is nice and simple, I'll do it, but you know, you've got to draw up an amendment that's properly worded in a parliamentary sense.

  Woman: Yeah

  Man: Yeah

  PS: I mean, do you work with any parliamentary agents at all?

  Man: No, but I just assumed I would get a parliamentary draftsman to do, to actually draw up, because I mean it is a quite a specific task isn't it? The whole thing

  PS: It is, Yeah, yeah

  Man: And then we could give you the draft and then you could give it to.

  PS: Whoever

Lord Snape Meeting page 27 of 33

  Man: Yeah

  PS: Yeah, sure. Do you know a parliamentary draftsman, I mean, do you have someone in mind?

  Man: Yes

  PS: Oh fine. Okay. I've got it, I mean that's the best way to do it, as you know, they'll do all the legalese. You'll find they're a lot more expensive than I am incidentally. You can't do these things cheaply. You know, there's a whole industry round here of parliamentary drafts—you can't call them draftsmen any more, they've got to be draftspeople.

  Woman: [laughs]

  PS: Ah. So, if you, you know, if you do that, and let me have a copy of it, then obviously I'll circulate it to those people I think might be sympathetic, people on the committee initially, but I'll talk to first the Minister's PPS, I'll find out who it is ... if it's the wrong generation sort of thing

  Woman: Yeah

  PS: ... put you in the picture.


  PS: I mean what I want from you as far as we're concerned is if you would summarise this conversation and our agreement in a letter to me, formally requesting me to act as a consultant on the lines financially that we have just agreed.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: Although it is not necessary, it is not essential, I would quite like to meet your clients, if—

  Woman: Yeah.

  Man: That is possible.

  PS: In your office, if you like, if you think it would impress him bring him here.

  Man: He might like to, say, have lunch in the Lords if that's—

  Woman: Yeah.

Lord Snape Meeting page 28 of 33

  PS: Mm. Chinese or Hong Kong Chinese are normally fairly astute business people, aren't they, to say the least?

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: Most people like the ambience of visiting, it indicates that you have some sort of connections in Parliament, or—

  Man: It is typical of them that they have identified this particular piece of legislation, and I would imagine that there might be others as well but I don't, they haven't identified any to us at the moment.

  Woman: No.

  PS: Is this 2 per cent that you mentioned is this in addition to the business rate that the—

  Man: It is on top of the—

  PS: I know it is a nuisance, but it's scarcely massive ...

  Man: Well no, but I think it is sort of an irritation and when it is aggregated across many different businesses it—

  PS: They don't seem to have a business rate in Hong Kong.

  Man: And also there is going to be a business rate renewal next year which means that—

  PS: It's obviously going to go up.

  Woman: There are lots of variables, I think that is part of the problem.

  Man: He just wants to sort of exclude all the variables.

  Woman: Especially because there is enough going on with the economy at the moment isn't there? Not quite sure what that is going to be like.

  PS: It is hardly healthy, is it?

  Woman: No.

  PS: It is not going to get any easier is it? I am not a betting man, but I think you'd get pretty good odds from a bookie against a fourth term Labour government.

  Woman: Yeah.

Lord Snape Meeting page 29 of 33

  PS: I mean, I think—

  Man: I can't see how—

  PS: I can't see us winning an election to be honest.

  Man: We wondered if you were going to go this summer?

  PS: No, with a double figures deficit in the opinion polls, you are not going to go, are you?

  Man: And so therefore you leave it and you just box yourself in.

  PS: As John Major did, but I mean politics is about "something will turn up", you know. It's the Mr Micawber theory.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: We forget how Mrs Thatcher was the most unpopular Prime Minister ever before the Falklands.

  Man: Of course, yeah.

  Woman: Hopefully something similar does not happen!

  Man: I am not saying that, but equally John Major was massive, wasn't he?

  PS: Yes he was. He won in 92, didn't he, against the odds. If Mrs Thatcher had still been leader of the Tory party, a fact a lot of them forget when they go on about how wonderful she was, if we had won by a landslide in 1992 and of course we'd have behaved in exactly the same way, because John Smith, the shadow Chancellor at the time, was just as keen on the European money mechanism, the ERM, whatever it was called, as Lamont and the Conservatives.

  Man: Mmm.

  PS: So we would have won in 92, behaved in exactly the same way, been expelled from the ERM would have cemented our view of—the general view of our economic incompetence, would have been massacred in 97 like the Tories were, so although it stopped me from being Minister of Transport or whatever, I think it was a good election to lose.

  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: The whole time for change thing is a real killer. [inaudible]

Lord Snape Meeting page 30 of 33

  Man: And the argument about competence, which is a good argument, because clearly I think most people would trust Gordon Brown above Cameron in terms of competence economically is slightly defeated by the constant bad news. I mean this week has been bad.

  PS: Yeah, terrible, and it's going to get worse. Job losses every day it is very difficult.

  Woman: Yeah, it's horrible.

  PS: People going bust, and it is not, you talk about Blair, but people quite liked him. We had a media. John Major said to me, I knew Major reasonably well because he was Whip opposite me and when they went into opposition after 97 he said the British press are merciless. They'll build him up for two or three years then they'll turn against him, like they turned against Brown. I think he is fortunate that Cameron is a bit of a lightweight and Osborne is even more so. I mean, bringing Kenneth Clarke back, providing they can get him to, keep him quiet on Europe is a good stroke.


  Woman: Yeah.

  PS: It takes away the main problem, Labour's attack that they're rich kids, you know.

  Woman: Who are inexperienced.

  Man: You know, "At a time like this, would you trust the economy with George Osborne?" That is a very a good line of attack.

  PS: Of course it is. And, you know, are we really going to turn the clock back to the days of the Old Etonian magic circle? Because, you know, a dozen of the Shadow Cabinet [were in the] Bullingdon Club or whatever it's called.

  Woman: Yes.

  PS: I should imagine that Labour's election strategists will be giving a lot of airings to that particular photograph.

  Woman: Yeah. [Laughs].

  PS: So getting Clarke back's a good stroke if they can keep him off Europe. Yeah. You never know. I mean, politics is full of ... You know, I wouldn't write them off completely.

  Man: It's not looking good, is it?

  PS: Two out of 10.

Lord Snape Meeting page 31 of 33

  Woman: [Laughs]

  Man: Well, look, we won't detain you any longer. What we'll do is we'll [inaudible] is the answer.

  Woman: Yep.

  Man: And thank you very much.

  PS: Not at all.

  Woman: Yeah, thanks for your time.

  PS: SW1A 0PA is the postcode of the House of Commons if you want to write to me. Or you could e-mail me.

  Woman: Yes.

  PS: Actually it would be handy if I had it in writing.

  Woman: Yes. Would you prefer it ... Because I can send it via e-mail with, like, as an attachment. Or would you prefer it in the post?.

  PS: Er... I guess in the post. Is that Okay?

  Woman: OK, yeah, that's fine. It makes no difference.

  PS: We can communicate by email after that.

  Woman: Yeah, it makes no difference.

  PS: I don't normally use the parliamentary e-mail thing. I use my own hotmail [inaudible]

  Woman: OK.

  PS: Right. The parliamentary stuff is full of junk from the Whip's office. Can you go here go there or [inaudible]?

  Woman: [inaudible]

  PS: Pleasure, nice to meet you.

  Woman: Have a nice lunch. Where are you going for lunch?.

Lord Snape Meeting page 32 of 33

  PS: [inaudible]

  Woman: Ah, very nice.

  [long stretch of inaudible, various speaking]

  PS: I came in her about a week before we actually resumed after Christmas Recess just to do a business thing and I said, oh, we'll go and eat at the ... [inaudible, lift pings]. Wednesday night, neither House sitting, but it was absolutely packed.

  Woman: I wonder who was there.

  PS: Well, they all looked as though they were reasonably affluent.

  Woman: Yes, I suppose they must have been.

  PS: Quite a lot of tourists as well [inaudible] maybe it's something ... 5-star hotels.

  Woman: Yeah. That's true. Saying it would be quiet.

  PS: They probably say it's full of politicians, you know, you go in there and see the Prime Minister or something like that.

  Lift: Ground Floor. Doors opening.

  PS: Right, nice to see you. Thanks again.

  Woman: Yeah nice to see you. See you later.

  Woman: Hello. Just get this.

  Man: He's wondering about us.

  Woman: I know.

  Woman: Thanks, bye.

  Woman: Did you see who his, um, ??office buddy?? was?

  Man: No.

  Woman: ??Woolmer??

Lord Snape Meeting page 33 of 33

  Man: Oh right.

  Woman: We didn't call him.

  Man: [?]

  Woman: Well those could be the same. They're involved with the same consultancy.

  Man: Ah, of course, yeah, I'm sorry, now I remember.

  Woman: Which way do we go? [inaudible] Oh, this way.

  Man: Yes, they would be. They both share that same ???

  Woman: Yeah.


Telephone Call to Lady Snape ("LS") from Michael Gillard ("MG") of the Sunday Times, Friday 23 January 2009 (1)

Telephone CD1 page 7 of 28

  MG: Are we on? Okay.

  Lady Snape: Hello

  MG: Hello. Is Lord Snape there please?

  LS: I'm afraid not. Who's that?

  MG: It's Michael Gillard from the Sunday Times.

  LS: Oh, right. Okay. Well, he's, erm, at the Lords.

  MG: He's at the Lords. Sorry, are you ...?

  LS: Yes, I mean he might possibly be on his way back, um, but he certainly went in this morning.

  MG: Right. Sorry, who I am talking to?

  LS: Lady Snape

  MG: Lady Snape. Could I leave a message with you just in case I don't manage to get hold of him?

  LS: Yes. Hang on a minute. Let me just find a pen `cos I'm upstairs at the moment.

  MG: I apologise. Do you want me to call back?

  LS: Err. No. Right, what's the message?.

  MG: It's Michael Gillard at the Sunday Times.

  LS: Yeah.

  MG: ... and we need to speak to him urgently about, ern, his discussions that he's had with a company called Michael Johnson Associates.

  LS: Michael Johnson Associates. What's your telephone number?

  MG: **** *** ...

  LS: *** ...

  MG: ****.

  LS: ****.

Telephone CD1 page 8 of 28

  MG: Or ****

  LS: Right. Okay. Sorry, could you say your name again?

  MG: Michael Gillard.

  LS: Michael Gillard.

  MG: We're running a story this weekend, so anything you can do to expedite him getting in touch with us, we would be very grateful.

  LS: Okay. Can I just check your number again? It's **** ...

  MG: ****.

  LS: Oh, sorry. **** ** ...

  MG: No, ***.

  LS: Sorry, it's this pen. It's not really ...

  MG: ****.

  LS: Yeah. ***.

  MG: ***.

  LS: *.

  MG: **.

  LS: Double * *.

  MG: Yeah, or ****.

  LS: Okay. Thank you. I've got that [inaudible]

  MG: Thank you very much.

  LS: Thank you very much. Bye bye

  [call ends]

Failed Telephone Call to Lord Snape ("PS") from Michael Gillard ("MG") of the Sunday Times, Friday 23 January 2009

Telephone CD1 page 8 of 28

  [new call]

  PS: Hello, I'm unable to take your call at the moment. If you'd like to leave your number, I'll ring you back as soon as I can. Thank you.

  Electronic voice: When you have finished recording please hang up or press the hash key for more options.

Telephone CD1 page 9 of 28

  MG: This is a message for Lord Snape from Michael Gillard at the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Lord Snape, I'm ringing to speak to you about discussions that you've had very recently with a company called Michael Johnson Associates and the client they represent, a Mr Jiang, and I understand that they're interested in having some legislation around business rates, a bill that is going both Houses, amended and they had, er, meetings with you very recently, I think, yesterday. Anyway, I'd like to talk to you about those discussions, erm, because we're running a story this weekend and, erm, there are some, um, allegations that I'd like to discuss with you. My numbers are ***** ****** or ***** ******. It's now 11.45 on Friday. Once again, it's quite urgent that we speak to you so that I can run through what it is that we understand you discussed with Michael Johnson Associates. Many thanks. Bye for now.

  [call ends]

Telephone Call to Lord Snape ("PS") from Michael Gillard ("MG") of the Sunday Times, Friday 23 January 2009

Telephone CD1 page 9 of 28

  [new call]

  MG: ... running

  Operator: House of Lords.

  MG: Hello. Could you put me through to Lord Snape's office please?

  [Ringing for a long time]

  MG: It's ringing out.

  [Phone picked up]

  MG: Hello?.

  PS: Michael Gillard?

  MG: Speaking

  PS: Hi, it's Peter Snape.

  MG: Oh, hello Lord Snape. Thanks for getting back to me. What it is is, erm, I understand you had some, a meeting, yesterday with a company called Michael Johnson Associates.

  PS: Yeah.

  MG: I also understand that they were representing a Chinese businessman called Li Jiang and that they wanted to have legislation amended in relation to the business rates bill that's going through the two Houses.

  PS: That's right.

  MG: And I wanted to talk to you about what it was that you were prepared to do for them.

Telephone CD1 page 10 of 28

  PS: Eh?

  MG: Can you help me with that?

  PS: Yes. I'm on a train so bear in mind that reception is not too clever. Can you speak up a bit?

  MG8: Can you hear me now?

  PS: Yes, I can, yes, yes.

  MG: Sorry, I'll try and speak louder.

  PS: Okay.

  MG: So what was it that you agreed to do for them?

  PS: [crackle] the, er, question they put to me was, er, they said they had a client from Hong Kong who wanted to start up a business in the United Kingdom, er, and obviously was concerned about the supplementary rate and the legislation that is going through the House of Commons at the moment.

  MG: Yeah.

  PS: I said to them that the rules are that I could not attempt to amend any legislation on behalf of an individual client or an individual company but I was quite happy to look at the possibility of the Government exempting any new companies throughout the United Kingdom from this supplementary business rate, perhaps for a limited period.

  MG: And how would you go about doing that?.

  PS: I [inaudible] I think that's between me and them, isn't it?

  MG: Right. Well, I mean, what I am saying is is what you did within the rules?

  PS: Of course, I mean, I just had a conversation with them, and I said...

  MG: What you agreed to do, was that within the rules of what Lords are allowed to do for outside interests? Hello? Can you hear me?

  PS: Can you still hear me?

  MG: I can hear you. Sorry, we cut out briefly.

  PS: Yeah, We just went through a tunnel [inaudible].

  MG: There you go. That would explain ...

Telephone CD1 page 11 of 28

  PS: What were we saying?

  MG: Well I was going to ask is whether you would be willing to talk to me about what it is that you agreed to do for them and whether money was involved.

  PS: Yes, of course.

  MG: Sorry, briefly, just before you entered the tunnel, I thought you said you wouldn't tell me what [inaudible].

  PS: No, I, look, I said I wouldn't do anything on their behalf, on behalf of an individual client ...

  MG: Yes.

  PS: ... because that would be outside the rules of the House. I said I was quite prepared to discuss with them how legislation could be changed which would benefit businesses throughout the United Kingdom, and if they wanted to take me on as a consultant to their company, my usual fees were, which I went through. I asked them to confirm in writing and I said I would confirm back to them in writing that I would only act on their behalf, er, on behalf of businesses throughout the UK and not on behalf of individual clients, as within the rules of House.

  MG: So you wouldn't have acted on behalf of the Chinese client, even though you knew that it was a Chinese client that was wanting this done [inaudible] of the lobbyists.

  PS: I'm sorry, can you just say that again? I'm not being difficult about this but [inaudible]

  MG: No, no, I can understand that.

  PS: ... on trains.

  MG: No, I've had conversations on trains. They're quite ...

  PS: Yeah. [inaudible]

  MG: If you'd like, if you're going to stop at some point, I could, maybe, call you when there's less tunnels and interference.

  PS: Well, well, I'm actually going to, on my way home so, er ...

  MG: Are you way off from landing?

  PS: I'm quite a way from Birmingham, yeah. I'm somewhere between Leighton Buzzard and Bletchley at the moment.

  MG: Oh, right, okay, so you've got about half an hour at least.

Telephone CD1 page 12 of 28

  PS: 40 minutes, I would have thought, yes, yeah.

  MG: Shall I call you in Birmingham?

  PS: Yes, well, why don't you ring me on this number at, say, 12.40, something like that.

  MG: 12.40. Speak to you then. All right.

  [call ends]

Failed Telephone Calls to Lord Snape ("PS") from Michael Gillard ("MG") of the Sunday Times, Friday 23 January 2009

Telephone CD1 page 12 of 28


  PS: Hello. I'm unable to take your call at the moment. If you'd like to leave your number, I'll ring you back as soon as I can. Thank you.

  Recorded voice: When you've finished recording please hang up or press the hash key for more options.

  MG: Lord Snape, it's Michael Gillard from the Sunday Times. It's 12.40. Hopefully you've arrived at Birmingham and we can now have a proper conversation. If you'd like to give me a call, I'm on ***** ******. If that line is engaged or no one answers, try ***** ******, which is the news desk, and ask for me and they'll come and find me. Otherwise I'll give you a call shortly. Thanks very much. Bye.

  [call ends]

  [new call]

  PS: Hello. I'm unable to take your call at the moment. If you'd like to leave your number, I'll ring you back as soon as I can. Thank you.

  Recorded voice: When you've finished recording please hang up or press the hash key for more options.

  MG: Oh, hello. It's Michael Gillard again from the Sunday Times. Clearly you're still on the phone. Anyway, very keen to speak. It's now, erm, almost quarter to one. Bye bye.

  [call ends]

Telephone Call to Lord Snape ("PS") from Michael Gillard ("Man") of the Sunday Times, Friday 23 January 2009 (2)

Telephone CD2 page 12 of 29

  [New call] 18.25

  PS: Hello.

  Man: Hi, it's Michael Gillard from the Sunday Times.

  PS: Hi.

  Man: Can you talk now?

  PS: Yeah, yeah, I'm at home now, yes.

  Man: Oh wonderful. So shall we start again?

  PS: Yeah.

  Man: Right. What I'm interested in is this company, Michael Johnson Associates and their client, this Chinese businessman, who I understand engaged your services.

  PS: Er, Michael Johnson Associates.

  Man: Yeah.

  PS: Not the Chinese client.

  Man: Well, that's their client, isn't it, as I understand.

  PS: It's what?

  Man: The Chinese man is their client.

  PS: He's one of their clients, I presume.

  Man: Yeah, but as I understand it, what they're engaging you to do is on his behalf.

  PS: No, no it is not, and if you understand that then whatever transcript you've got isn't true.

  Man: Whatever what?

  PS: Whatever transcript of the conversation you might have just isn't true.

  Man: Right. Um, so what exactly did you think you were doing for them?

  PS: Well actually I'm in this [inaudible] if you like [inaudible] okay. Er, following a telephone call from a Clare Taylor from Michael Johnson Associates.

Telephone CD2 page 13 of 29

  Man: Mm.

  PS: Er, regarding a possible consultancy agreement between us.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: She asked for a meeting which took place in my office this week.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: Her colleague told me the company had a Hong Kong client, so.

  Man: Sorry, could you go a bit slower?

  PS: Oh sorry, yes sure. I thought you had shorthand, don't you, shorthand [inaudible] Sunday Times [inaudible].

  Man: No no. This took place, a meeting which took place this week.

  PS: In my office this week.

  Man: Yeah.

  PS: Her colleague, and I'm afraid I left his business card in the office. I can't remember his name.

  Man: Yeah, sure.

  PS: ... might be David Thompson, yes, told me that the company had a client based in Hong Kong.

  Man: Yeah.

  PS: Er, who was anxious to open over 100 retail outlets in the UK.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: And was therefore [inaudible] seeking exemption from what he called supplementary business rate.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: This legislation currently before the House of Commons.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: I said it's, under the rules of the House I was unable to initiate any legislation on behalf of an individual or company.

  Man: Mm.

Telephone CD2 page 14 of 29

  PS: Er.

  Man: What did he say?

  PS: [inaudible]

  Man: Well then you wouldn't be initiating it, would you, you'd be amending it?

  PS: Well okay, then initiate—I'll amend my own statement then, if I may—initiate or amend—

  Man: Right.

  PS: Er any legislation on behalf of an individual or company.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: However I did state, following discussion, er, that such an exemption—

  Man: Yep.

  PS: Er, [inaudible] time-limited for all new start-up businesses—

  Man: Mm.

  PS: ... may be beneficial given the current economic circumstances.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: Er, and undertook to investigate such a possibility further.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: I went on to explain to Mr Johnson and his colleague parliamentary procedures in both Houses, through which any legislation would pass.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: I was then asked if I was interested in accepting a consultancy with Michael Johnson Associates—

  Man: Mm.

  PS: For my normal fees, er my normal scale of fees.

  Man: Mm.

  PS: And asked them to forward a, forward a formal letter to me—

Telephone CD2 page 15 of 29

  Man: Mm.

  PS: When I would consider it.

  Man: Right.

  PS: That's about what I've got to say on that.

  Man: Okay. Um, what, um, what I was interested in knowing is, is it the case, or isn't it the case, that you said you'd draw up an amendment for, for David Thompson to give to someone to put down in a committee?

  PS: No, that isn't the case. I said I would assist him, er, I said the best people to draw up such an amendment would be parliamentary agents who are the real experts. Mr Thompson said they had a, er people in mind.

  Man: And you didn't offer to draft the amendment.

  PS: I wouldn't know how to draft an amendment. I mean, you know, parliamentary procedures are fairly technical.

  Man: Right. And you didn't offer to approach the Minister in charge behind the scenes?

  PS: I said that er, er, it would be as well if, er, soundings were taken of the likely government reaction, er, to such an exemption for all businesses. For, I'm sorry, all new start-up businesses.

  Man: My point is, did you offer to approach the Minister in charge behind the scenes?

  PS: I offered to look into the best way of, er, sounding out the government, er, sounding out, er, the possibility of such a piece of legislation. Don't specifically, I didn't specifically name the Minister or anybody else.

  Man: Sorry, my question isn't whether you named him. The question is whether you offered to approach the Minister in charge.

  PS: I, I, I didn't know, I don't even know who the Minister in charge is. I mean—

  Man: Well, you could find out, wouldn't you?

  PS: Well, er, if I was—

  Man: [inaudible] thousand pounds a year. I mean it wouldn't be much of a—

  PS: Well indeed. In this case, if I were to be paid £24,000 a year I might do just that, but—

  Man: Yeah.

Telephone CD2 page 16 of 29

  PS: But at that stage, that stage, we're discussing the legislation.

  Man: But that was your fee structure, wasn't it?

  PS: My normal fee structure is £1,000 a month for retainer and £500 a day.

  Man: Right. So 24 a year was the discussed fee structure.

  PS: I said if I took more than two days a month, erm, then I would ask if I were going to charge for two days a month I would come back to them. At the moment that was about the average fee that I charged.

  Man: Right. And is it your case, Lord Snape, that you were willing to help MJA amend the legislation?

  PS: I was willing initially to help MJA to see what the reaction would be, and I was willing, er, to give them advice as to how the legislation might be amended.

  Man: Right.

  PS: Particularly by the use of the parliamentary agent. [inaudible] Chamber legislation, but I mean, if you try and do it yourself, you find out it means [inaudible] exactly the opposite to what you thought it meant.

  Man: Which is why, um, the phrase they used, I'm told, is "behind the scenes" is where your influence would work in parliamentary—

  PS: Not quite, as far as the drafting is concerned. I mean, I emphasise [inaudible] drafted professionally by a parliamentary agent.

  Man: But you're categoric on the fact that you didn't say that you would draw up, um, um, that they should draw up, um, an amendment for you to give to someone to put down in a committee?

  PS: They couldn't draft an amendment. They wouldn't have the expertise.

  Man: Right. And you're categoric that you didn't say that you would offer to draft it for them.

  PS: No, I wouldn't know how to draft it for them.

  Man: Right. Okay. Um. And that obviously I have said to you that the phone, the meeting conversations were taped.

  PS: Yes, well there's no doubt about that. Yes.

  Man: I mean, the people that you met were undercover reporters.

  PS: [inaudible] I guessed that too.

Telephone CD2 page 17 of 29

  Man: Right. When did you guess that?

  PS: Well, I had my suspicions beforehand—

  Man: Right.

  PS: The way it was done.

  Man: Right. Okay. And did you report that to anyone?

  PS: Well, I didn't have any occasion to, any cause to, did I? I mean, I emphasise that I laid down very strictly that I, in fact they asked me the question, have I ever amended legislation on behalf of anybody. I said I've amended quite a bit of legislation—

  Man: Mm.

  PS: But only from the Front Bench on behalf of the party. I've never done it for any individual. It would be against the rules of the House.

  Man: Right. Okay, well I think I've covered everything that I need to cover. Is there anything else you want to ask me?

  PS: Well, you will use my statements, er, will you, because I—

  Man: Sure. I mean I'll check it back with you if, um, I haven't got it down properly.

  PS: All right.

  Man: Are you going to be on this number for, for, the duration of, er, the weekend?

  PS: [inaudible] at home. It might be a better line.

  Man: All right. What's your home number?

  PS: You know it because [inaudible] my wife.

  Man: Oh of course I do. The ***** ******.

  PS: That's the one.

  Man: All right. Many thanks for your time. Bye.

  PS: Thank you. Bye.

  [call ends]

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