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

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 his mistake.

  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 Parliamentary dealings.

Ben Wallace


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.

  Yours sincerely,

Ben Wallace

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