Tory Lord lobbies for tax haven as he helps write its laws in London


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The Independent Online

A former Conservative minister with close links to the Government is sitting as a peer in the House of Lords while simultaneously lobbying on behalf of a Caribbean tax haven.

Lord Blencathra, a former Tory chief whip, is being paid by the Cayman Islands government to represent the interests of its financial services industry – despite also being able to vote on legislation affecting the territory.

Inquiries by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and i have established that Lord Blencathra has lobbied on behalf of the Caymans while claiming up to £5,500 a month in House of Lords attendance allowances.

There are no clear rules stopping members of the House of Lords effectively acting as paid lobbyists for other governments despite criticisms from transparency campaigners.

In the past few months, Lord Blencathra has:

* Lobbied Chancellor George Osborne to reduce the burden of air passenger transport taxes on the Caymans

* Facilitated an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caymans for three senior MPs with an interest in the islands over the Easter recess

* Followed an Early Day Motion in the Commons calling for the Caymans to be closed down as a tax haven by trying to introduce the MP responsible to members of a Cayman Islands delegation in London. (The meeting never took place.)

Even after the Government's proposed lobbying reforms take effect, Lord Blencathra would not have to declare his role as a lobbyist for the islands in the new register of lobbyists. Last night Labour called for there to be a ban on peers working as lobbyists.

Lord Blencathra, left, has not raised the Cayman Islands in any public interventions in the Lords and last night said in a statement: "I have been meticulous in ensuring that I have no conflict of interest between that role and my duties in the Lords."

George Osborne has come under pressure to crack down on off-shore tax havens like the Caymans, home to 70 per cent of hedge-fund registrations worldwide.

Shadow Cabinet minister Jon Trickett said: "It can't be right for a member of the legislature, responsible for setting tax policy, to be employed by a well-known tax haven."