Letter to Mr Keith from Ben Wallace MP,
Wednesday 4 February 2009
Dear Mr Keith,
I am writing to submit evidence to the Committee
of Inquiry set up to investigate allegations made against four
Labour Peers. I do so in order to support The Sunday Times
allegation that Lord Taylor's behaviour was far from inadvertent
and breached Parliamentary codes. As a Member of the House of
Commons I am uncomfortable with having to make a complaint against
a Member of the Upper House. My motives are, however, driven by
the distress caused to my constituents by this recent incident.
As you will be aware I initially made a formal
complaint following a telephone conversation with your Office.
(See attached letter). You will know from your inquiries that
as far back as 1997-98 Lord Taylor was in receipt of considerable
sums of money from Canatxx Gas Storage (and its associated companies).
He was paid money for services while the company sought planning
permission and developments on and near the River Wyre. The application
has been controversial and caused considerable concern to my constituents.
In October 2008 I was informed that following the recent passing
of the Planning Act 2008 and the Energy Act 2008 Canatxx would
resubmit its planning application. At just the same time Lord
Taylor asked a supplementary question on 22 October 2008 linked
to gas storage facilities without declaring his interest.
On Monday 27 October I was contacted by Joe
Robinson, a reporter on the Blackpool Gazette. Who told
me he had been contacted by a number of my constituents angry
about Lord Taylor's question. He asked me for my view. I said
that I would make a complaint to the Lords' authorities and that
I felt that Lord Taylor's behaviour was unacceptable. Subsequent
to this conversation Lord Taylor was contacted by the same reporter
and informed of my intentions. His quotes in response are attached.
[Article from the Blackpool Gazette, 28 October 2008, not
reproduced] At 4.00pm of that day Lord Taylor contacted my Office
and during that conversation with my Personal Assistant, Zoe Ashworth,
he was irate and issued threats against myself. He showed no indication
that he had made a mistake. At 7.00pm I returned his call and
he continued in the same irate manner informing me that he had
been in the House over 25 years and I did not know what I was
talking about. He proceeded to make threats about my conduct and
put the phone down on our conversation. At no time did he indicate
that he felt he should have declared an interest nor did he conduct
himself in a manner that I would have thought appropriate for
such a political veteran.
The recollection of events by both myself and
my staff directly contradict the interview Lord Taylor gave to
Sky News on 25 January when news of the scandal broke in The
Sunday Times. In his interview he said: "I have never
broken any... Once, I think on just one occasion, where I asked
a supplementary question and didn't declare my interest, once
I realised it, the following day I apologised to the House."
I contest that, not only has Lord Taylor failed to declare his
interest on that occasion, he then sought to mislead the public
and media. I believe the record will show he did not apologise
to the House of Lords the next day, nor was it he who recognised
I hope this submission is helpful in informing
the Committee of my concerns regarding Lord Taylor's connections
with Canatxx and the influence this relationship has had on his
27 October 2008
Dear Mr Keith,
I am writing to ask you to investigate a breach
of procedure by a Member of the House of Lords. The Noble Lord
Taylor of Blackburn asked a question on the floor of the House
on 22 October and as you can see from an extract of Hansard [not
reproduced] at no point did he make the House aware that he is
an Advisor to Canatxx UK Ltd. This is particularly relevant as
Canatxx is attempting to apply for planning permission in my constituency
for a gas storage facility under the River Wyre. Canatxx is a
Texan gas exploration company and has in the past attempted to
sponsor politicians at crucial times in the planning process.
I strongly object to their methods and their application in my
constituency has caused deep hurt among residents. I should be
most grateful if you would give this your consideration.