Lib Dem Conference: Steel under fire for taking pounds 94,000 from hunt ing lobby

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The Independent Online
David Steel drew criticism from fellow Liberal Democrats yesterday after revelations that he had accepted pounds 94,000 from the hunting lobby. Although all agreed that the former party leader had the right to express his views, several said they were disappointed that he had accepted payment as part-time chairman of the Countryside Movement.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, pointed out that Lord Steel, who retired as an MP in May, had registered his financial interest in the group. "It was always known he was heavily involved. Personally I would not want to take money from any external source. I think being an MP is a full time job," he said.

Jackie Ballard, MP for Taunton, is a sponsor of the Private Member's Bill to ban hunting with dogs which is being brought by the Labour MP for Worcester, Michael Foster, this autumn.

She said Lord Steel had made his views on hunting - that others should be free to take part in it - well known. But she added: "I actually think they have got bad value for their money because they are going to lose when it goes through parliament. I have no problem with David Steel, but I don't get paid to express my views which are strongly anti-hunting."

Jo Morton, delegate for Hexham and a member of the Green Liberal Democrats, said: "I think there's a clear line between being paid to do a job and simply promoting a good cause."