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

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-239)

Lord Snape

10 MARCH 2009

  Q220  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Why did you proceed so far in this conversation without taking the view of the Registrar?

  Lord Snape: Because I was holding a conversation, my Lord, no more than that. I expected some formal proposals, as I indicate later.

  Q221  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Were you in doubt as to whether what you were being asked to do was permissible?

  Lord Snape: I am no expert on the rules. Before I would do anything formally, or informally for that matter, as far as approaching people I would have checked up whether it was appropriate to do so if I had a consultancy with this particular firm. As I have indicated, I would want to tell the Registrar which clients they have got and in what areas.

  Q222  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Just draw my attention again to where in the transcript you say you told these undercover reporters that you would have to clear it with the Registrar?[3]

  Lord Snape: Can you give me a moment or two to do that?

  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Of course.

  Q223  Chairman: Of course.

  Lord Snape: On page 8.

  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Just take it slowly so that we find our way there.

  Q224  Chairman: Page 8.

  Lord Snape: " ... although I will take advice from the Registrar of Members' Interests in the Lords ..." and further "I might well have to declare that you have certain clients involved in this particular field". There is one specific—

  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Where is that, forgive me?

  Chairman: The top of page 8, the first paragraph.

  Q225  Lord Irvine of Lairg: So that is—

  Lord Snape: That is one. There are others, my Lord.

  Q226  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Why do we not gather them together now?[4]

  Lord Snape: At page 10 where I specifically mention the Registrar, I say on page 10—

  Q227  Baroness Manningham-Buller: The second paragraph.

  Lord Snape: "Well, the obvious question that the Registrar would ask me ..." and the point you made earlier, my Lord, "would be `Who's paying you?'" I think it is apparent from that sentence that any step I would have taken, including an informal approach, would have first necessitated me clearing the matter with the Registrar. On page 10 further down, "I could well argue, I'm sure, under the rules ..." I am stating that I would follow the advice of the Registrar and act within the provision of the rules only and only within the provisions of the rules.

  Q228  Chairman: You also said that on page 7, "But I need to take advice".

  Lord Snape: I am hopping backwards and forwards with these somewhat bleary eyes of mine, so it is not a completely comprehensive list.

  Q229  Chairman: I am just trying to help you.

  Lord Snape: And I am very grateful. I knew I had mentioned the Registrar and said that I could not do anything without clearance from the Registrar at least three times, and I think that was the third one.

  Q230  Lord Irvine of Lairg: So in your mind everything was subject to clearance by the Registrar?

  Lord Snape: Before I would have taken any action or approached anybody, it was—

  Q231  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Or made any agreement?

  Lord Snape: Say that again, my Lord.

  Q232  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Or made any agreement?

  Lord Snape: I am sorry to keep jumping around, but at the end of the conversation I asked them specifically to submit their proposals in writing. I would not sign anything there and then. Indeed, they asked me if they could email me with some proposals to be taken on as a consultant and I said, "No, I want it in writing".

  Q233  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Did you not say at a later stage that you felt that you had an agreement?

  Lord Snape: You would have to point that out.

  Q234  Lord Irvine of Lairg: I will take you to that later. You are saying at this stage that you would not have made an agreement without clearing it with the Registrar.

  Lord Snape: Not only that, I would not have signed up for anything with this mythical, as it turned out, consultancy company until I had seen their proposals in writing and that was what I said to them before they left. Again, you see that later on in the transcript, my Lord Chairman.

  Q235  Chairman: Could I press you again on this point. They were very clear what they wanted you to do, which was paid advocacy. Why did you feel that you needed advice on that, it is pretty clear that paid advocacy per se is not allowed?

  Lord Snape: I am sorry, I do not quite follow the phrase "paid advocacy". I understood that they were coming to talk to me about a consultancy. I was anxious to tell them what I could and could not do, ruled out their specific amendment right from the start and qualified everything else they asked me to do by reference at least three times to consulting the Registrar. I am not familiar with the phrase "paid advocacy" as far as any conversation I held with these people.

  Q236  Lord Irvine of Lairg: What the Lord Chairman is referring to is paragraph 4 of the Code, and you should go to it if you have it there.

  Lord Snape: I do have it here.

  Q237  Lord Irvine of Lairg: You will see where it comes in.

  Lord Snape: Yes.

  Q238  Lord Irvine of Lairg: "Members of the House", I miss out (a), "(b) should act always on their personal honour; (c) must never accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising parliamentary influence; (d) must not vote on any bill or motion, or ask any question in the House or a committee, or promote any matter, in return for payment or any other material benefit (`the no paid advocacy' rule)". That is what the Lord Chairman is referring to.

  Lord Snape: Yes, I understand.

  Q239  Lord Irvine of Lairg: Were you not going to promote this amendment by speaking to all manner of people?

  Lord Snape: Well, I was going to suggest the idea of exempting on a blanket basis new start-up businesses.

3   Comment by the witness: please see footnote at Q217. Back

4   Comment by the witness: please see footnote to Q217. Back

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