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

Letter to Baroness Prashar from Norman Baker MP, Monday 26 January 2009

  Dear Usha,

  I am writing to ask you, in your capacity of Chairman of the Lords Sub-Committee on Members' Interests, to begin an investigation into the very serious allegations made in yesterday's Sunday Times.

  The paper alleges, over a number of pages and at considerable depth, that four peers offered to advance the cause on outside business (fictitious, as it happens), in exchange for money. The services offered, while stopping short of the tabling of amendments, did allegedly include intervention behind the scenes with Ministers and Bill officials, which, to my mind, constitutes paid advocacy, which of course is rightly prohibited.

  I note that the statements made by the peers in question, when confronted with the allegations, included denials that amendments had been tabled, but not, as far as I can see, the other elements of what widely will be seen as paid advocacy.

  I also note that the Sunday Times maintains it has tape recordings of at least two of the meetings, and would ask you in the interests of fairness, if you do agree to conduct an investigation, to ask the paper for copies of these tapes.

  More generally, the paper suggests that over half the members of the Lords now have consultancies, and I further understand that the vast majority of these have been self-classified as non-parliamentary consultancies, which of course constitutes a lower level of accountability. It is not clear to me why outside interests would wish to use so many peers for non-parliamentary consultancies, and I believe any inquiry you hold ought to consider this wider aspect as well, both in terms of whether the description applied to the activities carried out is accurate, and indeed whether it is appropriate at all for peers to be able to carry out consultancy work.

  I look forward to your reply. I am copying this letter to Brendan Keith, in his capacity as the registrar of Lords' interests.

  Yours sincerely

Norman Baker MP

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