Commentary: Conflict of MPs' interest

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The Independent Online
MPs' salaries are low by the standards of professional London, so it is accepted that many seek outside jobs. Disclosure is important in these cases, but so is the avoidance of any appearance of a conflict of interest. John Watts, chairman of the Treasury select committee, stood down last month from the BCCI inquiry, because a client of his accountancy firm was a creditor of the bank.

Michael Clark, who has wide energy industry experience, has been a valuable member of the trade and industry committee inquiry into British Coal. If, as expected, he becomes an adviser to British Gas in the new year, the committee's report will be devalued in public eyes, no matter how impartial a role he played in private. He should step down from the inquiry immediately.

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