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Lords suspended over cash for access scandal

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Lords suspended over cash for access scandal

Post by sharonl on 03.06.13 7:49

David Cameron under pressure as three Lords suspended over cash for access scandal
3 Jun 2013 00:00

Labour peers Lord Mackenzie and Lord Cunningham were suspended from the party after undercover reporters filmed them promising to ask questions, host events and lobby ministers for cash


David Cameron and his wife Samantha during their recent holiday David Cameron and his wife Samantha during their recent holiday

Getty


David Cameron was last night under mounting pressure to get a grip on sleazy politicians – after the House of Lords was dragged into the cash-for-influence scandal.

Labour peers Lord Mackenzie and Lord Cunningham were suspended from the party after undercover reporters filmed them promising to ask questions, host events and lobby ministers for cash.

A third peer taped offering to sell his influence, Ulster Unionist Lord Laird, was also suspended and resigned his party whip.

It came after revelations that top Tory MP Patrick Mercer had failed to register thousands in payments to work for a lobbying firm. He resigned from the party and promised to stand down at the next election.

The revelations sparked fury among MPs and led to heightened calls on the Prime Minister to honour his election pledge to crack down on lobbyists.

Labour’s Jim Murphy said the scandal marked a “new low for British politics”.

Tory Cabinet Minister Francis Maude insisted the Government would pass a legally binding register of lobbyists – despite the pledge being dropped from last month’s Queen’s Speech.

Mr Maude also promised the Coalition would give voters the power to kick out corrupt MPs.

He told the BBC One’s Sunday Politics programme: “We are going to do this. We need finally to resolve the issues about scope and so on and then we’ll get on with it. I can’t absolutely guarantee that because it’s not in my power to do that, but I would be astonished if that were not the case.”

Fellow Tory cabinet minister Justine Greening piled more pressure on Mr Cameron to act – calling for a new approach to “tackle lobbying effectively”.

She said: “Within Parliament there is ability to identify what the rules are and find out whether they’ve been broken.

“But I think we also need to look at how we can go further than that and perhaps be better and clearer over what constitutes effective lobbying and when it goes beyond the line.”

Ms Greening said Mr Mercer, who quit the Tory whip last week over “cash for access” allegations, needed to “make his mind up” about his political future.

But the announcements were dismissed by campaigners calling for more powers to sack dodgy MPs. Tory backbench rebel Zac Goldsmith described Mr Maude’s proposal as a “stitch-up”.

The undercover probe into House of Lords sleaze came after a Tory source claimed it was, “infested with lobbyists, like a nest of piranhas feasting on body parts of democracy”.

Reporters posing as businessmen with interests in Fiji filmed Lord Laird expressing interest in offering to help them in return for £2,000 a month.

The peer suggested he would use the promise of a visit to Fiji to get politicians to join an All Party Parliamentary Group for the country.

He said on the tape: “I’ll deny having said this, but it’s a bribe.”

Lord Laird, ex-cabinet minister Lord Cunningham and former senior police officer Lord Mackenzie were also caught in a separate sting, where they appeared to offer to use their influence to help a solar panel firm.

Lord Cunningham offered a personal lobbying service for £12,000 a month.

He was quoted as saying: “Are you suggesting £10,000 a month? Make that... £12,000 a month. I think we could do a deal on that.”

Lord Mackenzie said for cash he would ask questions and approach ministers to “bend their ears”.

In a statement, Labour said both were, “suspended from the Labour Party pending further investigation”.

It added: “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of its representatives and believes that they have a duty to be transparent and accountable.”

All three peers denied any wrongdoing. Lord Mackenzie yesterday insisted he turned down the offer to lobby.

He said: “I’m quite clear I’ve broken no rules, I’ve asked no questions for money and I’ve lobbied no ministers and nor would I do.”

But he accepted that his actions could be seen as “evading” the rules. He added: “I fully accept that, but certainly it was within the rules.”

Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said the public would be “sickened” by the latest revelations.

He said: “I’ve watched the video and I sit here and my toes curl up inside my shoes in utter embarrassment at some of the things that appear to have been said.

“Particularly that quote about ‘this is a bribe but I’ll deny it whenever asked’.

“I think the public, who have looked on with astonishment and a sense that there’s one rule for those who govern and another set of rules for those who are governed, will be absolutely sickened.”

Lib Dem peer Lord Newby called for stronger rules to regulate lobbyists and labelled some peers as “venal” in their approach to public office.

After the MPs’ expenses affair, Mr Cameron called lobbying “the next big scandal waiting to happen”.

The Coalition Agreement in 2010 said: “We will regulate lobbying through introducing a statutory register of lobbyists and ensuring greater transparency.”

Last month Deputy PM Nick Clegg urged Mr Cameron to honour the pledge.


Mirror.co.uk http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-cameron-under-pressure-three-1928429#ixzz2V8JTMF7a

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Re: Lords suspended over cash for access scandal

Post by plebgate on 03.06.13 7:58

That article sums this government up nicely for me. All promises no action.

Clegg says that Cameron should honour his pledge. FAT CHANCE.

Hope he enjoyed his cuppa with his wife on his latest get away, whilst the rest of us were left with the horrific images on tv and in the papers of the young soldier brutally murdered and the terrorist threats that were being planned whilst he was away.

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Re: Lords suspended over cash for access scandal

Post by sharonl on 03.06.13 8:31

Cash for questions: more MPs under investigation as David Cameron's lobbying scandal prediction comes true
Patrick Mercer is not the only MP under investigation in the lobbying scandal, Deputy Political Editor James Kirkup reveals, after the former Conservative shadow minister dramatically resigned on Friday over footage showing him offering his services to lobbyists in exchange for cash.

Watch the video here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10092830/Cash-for-questions-more-MPs-under-investigation-as-David-Camerons-lobbying-scandal-prediction-comes-true.html

Patrick Mercer MP said he agreed to be a consultant for work he said was outside parliament. But he submitted five parliamentary questions which were all answered, as well as an early day motion, all in relation to Fiji.

An undercover investigation conducted by The Telegraph and the BBC’s Panorama programme found that the former shadow minister, tabled five questions to Government ministers and put down a parliamentary motion after being paid £4,000 as part of a contract he believed would earn him £24,000 a year.

David Cameron warned more than three years ago that lobbying was the “next big scandal waiting to happen” but he has failed to act on the issue, says James Kirkup, as he reveals more MPs were investigated by The Telegraph.

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Re: Lords suspended over cash for access scandal

Post by plebgate on 03.06.13 8:44

I am not surprised that Hacked Off's campaign was so"successful". Mps with things to hide, what an opportunity to shut the press up.

But after all the press coverage and the shady deals exposed I bet not one of the greedy, grabbing barstewards will do time. Not that I am sure it is a criminal offence, but if not it should be and PDQ.

I am fed up hearing MPs carping about how they are underpaid, long hours, blah freakin blah. another big pay rise coming their way soon, second jobs and still they want more and more.

Cameron needs to sort this country out pronto or the gutless backbench MPs need to get him out and put in an MP who will. (Not that I believe there is one in Parliament who is capable of doing so) but it would be nice.

HACKED OFF you bet I am, with the lot of them. aaarggghhh.

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