Lords are leaping … into bed with lobbyists

26 October, 2007

There is an interesting story in the Guardian about Lord Hoyle taking bungs to fix a meeting for a defence lobbyist with the Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support Lord Drayson.  

Now if these allegations are true and that is a big if we shouldn’t throw the book at him. Why stop at one why not the whole library. If we kicked all the idiots out of parliament the benches would be substantially less populated than presently so stupidity can often be used as a defence when the proverbial hits the fan. Personally I find it hard to accept a verdict of stupidity in this case. Taking bungs for fixing meetings with Ministers and chatting about football is way beyond stupid. Perhaps even more stupid is the fact that the practice is not explicitly banned. The sooner we have an elected House of Lords rather than a retirement home for the has beens or never will be’s the better

Battling malign influence around Westminster shouldn’t be limited to the House of Lords and we cannot afford to take our eye of the ball. I got really interested in politics during the Major years and as a Labour supporter it was fun to watch the Tories implode over sleaze we absolutely cannot let the same thing happen to us.

In the battle for influence proximity matters, face time matters. We need for the authorities in the house to clamp down on MP’s giving out passes to their “mates”. Interest groups of various kinds have the time and the resources to have people in Westminster full time the joe bloggs voter gets a vote roughly every 4 years and then we wonder why people feel disenfranchised. MP’s shouldn’t be going for expensive lunches paid for by lobbyists, they should be doing what they are paid to do which is serve their constituents.

I would also ban MP’s outside interests. Sure there is an arguement that we don’t want a house full of career politicians who do nothing apart from politics. Fine that is an arguement that I fully support. What I object to is MP’s earning money from outside interests. Let them have all the consultancies they want to get as much experience outside Westminster as they can stand but let them do it for free or give the wages to charity. Then we will really see how much MP’ s are interested in broadening their experience or how much in lining their pockets.

PS more on constituency campaigns later

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