Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-239)|
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
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
Lord Irvine of Lairg: Where is that, forgive
Chairman: The top of page 8, the first paragraph.
Q225 Lord Irvine of Lairg: So that
Lord Snape: That is one. There are others,
Q226 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Why do
we not gather them together now?
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
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
Lord Snape: Say that again, my Lord.
Q232 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Or made
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
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
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
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
Lord Snape: Yes, I understand.
Q239 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Were you
not going to promote this amendment by speaking to all manner
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
Comment by the witness: please see footnote to Q217. Back