Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280-299)|
10 MARCH 2009
Q280 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Sorry,
do you mean by that you might not even have bothered to go to
the Registrar of Members' Interests because you would have decided
to do nothing?
Lord Snape: I would have decided to do
Q281 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Without
going to the Registrar?
Lord Snape: Yes. We are speaking hypothetically,
but certainly when I reflected on the two amendments that I tabled,
which I thought were eminently sensibleI use that phrase
a bit too oftenthat would benefit the bus business as a
whole, I then thought 24 hours later maybe it was not so sensible
to move these because it could be said I was benefiting a company
for which I had a paid consultancy, although I might have been
benefiting the whole of the bus industry, so I did not move them.
It might well have been the case so far as MJA consultants were
concerned that I would have reflected the same. I emphasise, Lord
Dholakia, that although certain words there, the ones that Lord
Irvine pointed out, appear to have enormous significance, this
was a casual conversation, I had signed nothing, I had tabled
nothing and nor would I have done so without checking that they
were within the rules of the House and particularly within 4(c)
and I may well have reflected, in response to Lady Manningham-Buller's
question again, that it would have been improper for me to do
so under 4(c). I stress, this was an hour long conversation where
we are extracting various sentences, Lord Irvine, that might have
led me to reflect later on that perhaps this was not a wise course
Q282 Lord Irvine of Lairg: You knew
that "MJA" only had one client, this supposed Chinese
Lord Snape: No, sorry, my Lord, they
say later on
(i) page 5(Man) "In particular, we've
got one client ...because he was one of our Brussels clients"
(ii) page 7(PS) "I'd need to take
advice, as these people are your clients"
(iii) page 8(PS) "I might well have
to declare that you have certain clients involved in this particular
(iv) page 20(Man) "which initially
we did as sort of corporate communications for, um, all sorts
of, er, clients"
(v) page 20(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"
(vi) page 27(PS) "I would quite like
to meet your clients"
(vii) page 28(Man) "I think it is
sort of an irritation and when it is aggregated across many different
Q283 Lord Irvine of Lairg: In the
Lord Snape: Well, they say later on they
have lots of prospective clients, including the aviation business.
I used to be the Labour Party's aviation spokesman.
Q284 Lord Irvine of Lairg: The amendment
sought was for start-up businesses in the retail industry.
Lord Snape: No, my Lord, it was not,
with respect, it was for new start-up businesses generally.
Q285 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Could
we move to pages 15-16 of the transcript. I do not want to spend
too much time over, is it, Lynda Waltho?
Lord Snape: Yes, it is.
Q286 Lord Irvine of Lairg: When you
were with them you took up time to ring Lynda Waltho, and you
described her as the Shadow Minister for the West Midlands and
you were having lunch with her.
Lord Snape: And some other people as
Q287 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Some other
folk as well, and she could take the opportunity of delivering
a copy of the Bill to you.
Lord Snape: One of her staff. I knew
where her office was in Portcullis House, it is near the Vote
Office where copies of the Bill would be held.
Q288 Lord Irvine of Lairg: A slightly
extraordinary thing to do in the course of this meeting with strangers.
Lord Snape: I am sorry, Lord Irvine,
there is nothing suspicious or extraordinary about it. We were
going to a restaurant with one or two others, what is it called,
it is in the old Westminster Library, and she would have to pass
by my office to get there. It is an Indian restaurant.
Q289 Baroness Manningham-Buller:
The Cinnamon Club.
Lord Snape: I am grateful.
Q290 Lord Irvine of Lairg: I like
curry, not too hot!
Lord Snape: Very expensive curry, I might
tell you, I was glad I was not paying! As my office is in Fielden
House on Little College Street, she would have had to pass the
office and I thought, out of sheer idleness, to save me a walk
maybe she would bring me a copy of the Bill from the Vote Office.
There was nothing sinister about that.
Q291 Lord Irvine of Lairg: It was
not to demonstrate to prospective clients the influence that you
still had in the House of Commons?
Lord Snape: No, the thought did not cross
my mind, Lord Irvine. That is the first time it has been put in
Q292 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Okay.
We will see that does not have wide currency.
Lord Irvine of Lairg: Then at any rate you discussed
terms for the parliamentary consultancy, did you not, at page
17, how much money?
Baroness Manningham-Buller: And how much time.
Q293 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Time and
Lord Snape: Yes. I discussed it not specifically
as far as they were concerned because I talked to them again about
it, but I talked about my usual scale of charges, yes.
Q294 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Basically
it ended up at 24,000 a year, did it not?
Lord Snape: So the Sunday Times
Q295 Lord Irvine of Lairg: What do
Lord Snape: I said it might not be as
much as that because it depends on how much work. It certainly
would not be any more because I would confirm with them if I needed
to spend more than two days a month. Bear in mind they said they
had a whole list of other clients, including some in the aviation
field. Because they were new, as I thought, and because they were
just starting out in business, as I thought, I was quite prepared
to say to them, and did so in the course of the exchanges, it
might not be £24,000, it might be considerably less.
Q296 Lord Irvine of Lairg: Then the
conversation moved to a different kind of way in which you could
seek to exercise influence, for example on the civil servants
in the Bill team.
Lord Snape: It was a general conversation
about the influence civil servants have on legislation.
Baroness Manningham-Buller: Where are you?
Lord Irvine of Lairg: I am at page 18.
Baroness Manningham-Buller: At the bottom?
Q297 Lord Irvine of Lairg: You say
that you were asked, half way down, "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. 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." Then you go on to say, "I mean, they
are ... more important than the politicians in my experience"
and then you say, "If you can persuade them, then you know
you are halfway there". Again, it is obvious that you do
not think there will be anything inappropriate in seeking to persuade
the Bill team or particular members of it of the merit of this
amendment because then you would be halfway there.
Lord Snape: I did not think there was
anything inappropriate in bouncing an idea, the thought of which
attracted me, off civil servants, no.
Q298 Lord Irvine of Lairg: But you
would make it plain to the civil servants that the idea appealed
to you and has merit which they should consider with a view to
bringing to their Minister?
Lord Snape: Indeed.
Q299 Baroness Manningham-Buller:
Earlier on that page, Lord Snape, after you had been discussing
the time it might take you and what you might charge, you
Lord Snape: This is page 19?
8 Comment by the witness: please see references in
the Hansard transcript to MJA's clients: Back
Comment by the witness: please see footnote to Q282. Back