Letter: Peers' interests

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The Independent Culture
Sir: On 10 August you published two articles alleging that "top peers" were "hiding paid interests"; I was mentioned among others. The allegation against me is that, even though I have included all my energy interests in the House of Lords Register, in a recent debate on energy policy I failed to declare these interests "in clear terms". Even if this were correct, it is a far cry from "hiding paid interests".

It is well known in the House of Lords that I have been connected for over 50 years with the energy industry. That is the reason why I was brought into the House of Lords; it is the subject on which I am most knowledgeable and it is one on which my party has invited me to speak.

I believe that the recent debate on energy policy referred to in your articles was one which I initiated on 14 June. In this I specifically stated that I was involved in the Nottingham Energy Partnership, a joint venture with the City Council to promote improvements in energy efficiency and reductions in emissions. Many would approve of such a venture, including possibly your newspaper.

I am also active in other energy matters. But it seems absurd to me, as you seem to contend, that every time I speak on energy in the House of Lords (which is frequently) I should have to indicate everything I do in that sector, bearing in mind that I have listed my interests in the Register. I mention what is relevant to the subject under discussion.

Here was a debate on energy policy in which important issues were raised and which had a constructive response from the minister, Lord Clinton- Davies. And all you chose to do was to seek to demonstrate (unsuccessfully) that I had somehow failed to reveal my continuing interest in the energy sector. A sad commentary on press priorities!