Lobbying: calls for transparency over former MPs' access to Parliament

 

Dozens of MPs who left the Commons at the last election have taken jobs in organisations involved in lobbying and have been given passes that give them privileged access to Parliament, an investigation for The Independent has established. Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that one in five of the 79 MPs who have applied for Former Members' Passes after the 2010 election now work for companies or organisations with a possible interest in influencing present MPs.

Several have worked for lobbying firms. There are 326 former MPs who hold Former Members' Passes, allowing them access to informally meet MPs, bring guests into the House of Commons and book restaurants with family in the Palace of Westminster.

The Parliamentary authorities keep no record of who they allow into Westminster or bookings made in their name, although the use of the passes for lobbying is explicitly forbidden.

Unlike serving MPs, journalists, and Parliamentary support staff who also have access to Parliament there is no need for the former MPs to declare their business interests. The system was set up by the former Speaker Michael Martin in 2004 to allowing former MPs to keep up with friends in Parliament.

There is no suggestion that any of those former MPs who hold ex-member passes have misused them in any way, but there is a lack of transparency about the outside interests of those who hold them. Last night, Labour called for a register of interests to be established for ex-MPs with passes, in response to the findings. Among those with ex-member passes who left at the last election are former ministers including Alan Milburn and Patricia Hewitt. Mr Milburn, who set up AM Strategy before he left Westminster to handle his "media and consultancy work", has also worked for PepsiCo, Bridgepoint, and Lloyd Pharmacy, according to the Register of Members Interests when he was still an MP. But, since he left at the last election there is no record of his private business work despite him still having access to parts of Parliament. Mr Milburn said he was now a "private citizen" and did not want to comment.

The former health secretary Patricia Hewitt is now chair of the UK India Business Council and on the board of Eurotunnel. Before she left the Commons she was recorded describing to undercover reporters the ways in which ministers could be lobbied. She said: "I use my parliamentary pass very rarely. I do not use it for private business purposes."

Another former minister, Richard Caborn, now promotes the interests of high-value UK manufacturingto ministers, Whitehall and Parliamentarians. He said there was nothing wrong with having an ex-MP's pass. "I am very proud of what I do and would have no problem with lobbying on behalf of our hi-tech manufacturing industry," he said. "But I would back moves for a register as it would make things more transparent."

Another MP who left Parliament in 2010, and has access to the Commons is Labour's Andrew Dismore, the co-ordinator of the Access to Justice Action Group, which is fighting against cuts to legal aid and is partly funded by the legal industry. On the business connections website LinkedIn, Mr Dismore promotes himself as "an expert on parliamentary procedure especially promoting and blocking Private Members' Bills". He adds that he has a "detailed understanding of how to influence government and parliamentarians". Mr Dismore said he had not done anything wrong, was open about his involvement with Ajag and would also welcome a register. "I believe the more transparency the better. When I applied for the pass I asked if there was a register and was told there wasn't one which surprised me."

Another passholder is Nigel Waterson, the former Conservative MP for Eastbourne, who was listed as a consultant for the lobbying firm Butler Kelly on the August lobbying register. He said: "I am careful to follow the House rules about not using my pass when visiting the House in a lobbying capacity."

Among other members who left the House of Commons in 2010 who are listed as having ex-member's passes are Jane Kennedy who was listed on the August APPC register as a consultant. Ms Kennedy said it had been in connection for some work she had done on high-speed rail. She said she had never used her pass for business purposes. "I use it mostly for seeing friends apart from during the No2Av campaign and I make no apology for that."

Privileged access: Ex-MPs with Commons passes

Richard Caborn (Lab 1983-2010)

A former Trade minister, he now works on behalf of high-value UK manufacturing and, in particular, the advanced manufacturing centre at Sheffield University. He said there was nothing wrong with having an ex-MP's pass but backed moves to makes the system more transparent.

Andrew Dismore (Lab 1997-2010)

Mr Dismore is co-ordinator at Access to Justice Action Group, a campaign group supported by the legal industry, which has campaigned against elements of the proposed Legal Aid Bill.

Parmjit Dhanda (Lab 2001-2010)

Was listed as a consultant who had a parliamentary pass for Butler Kelly on the June-August 2011 register. Dhanda still appears on the most recent register but is no longer listed as having a pass. He was unavailable to comment.

Nigel Waterson (Con 1992-2010)

He was listed as a consultant who had a parliamentary pass for lobbyists Butler Kelly on the June-August 2011 register. Butler Kelly's clients include Thames Water and BASF Chemicals, though there is no suggestion Mr Waterson worked on these accounts. Mr Waterson said: "I am careful to follow the House rules about not using my pass when visiting the House in a lobbying capacity."

Alan Milburn (Lab 1992-2010)

He served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Health Secretary and Cabinet Office minister under Tony Blair. Set up AM Strategy before he left Westminster to handle his "media and consultancy" work. He has also worked with PepsiCo, Bridgepoint, and Lloyds Pharmacy, according to the Register of Members Interests, when he was still an MP. However, since he left the House of Commons at the last election there is no record of his private business work. Last night Mr Milburn said he was now a "private citizen" and did not want to comment on the issue.

Philip Woolas (Lab 1997-2010)

Mr Woolas founded Wellington Street Partners Limited with Sir Sydney Chapman and Paul Keetch. Wellington Street is a political and business consultancy providing advice to clients on the working of Westminster and government. However, the company is clear on its website that it does not actively lobby for clients.

Andy Reed (Lab 1997-2010)

Mr Reed is director of SajeImpact. SajeImpact Ltd offers advice to a variety of sports bodies, NGBs, social enterprises and faith charities in making sure their strategies and communications are effective with the key stakeholders in their sector. He said: "I don't think I can add anything of use to your article as my new work lies in the sports world and faith charities across the world."

Brian Iddon (Lab 1997-2010)

The former MP for Bolton South East, Mr Iddon is now director of Care Not Killing Alliance, a campaign group that advocates for palliative care and against euthanasia. The group's website states that it "seeks to build up and mobilise mass political support to be deployed with maximum impact on the parliamentary process as and when necessary." Mr Iddon was unavailable to comment.

Patricia Hewitt (Lab 1997-2010)

The former Health Secretary is now chair of the UK India Business Council and is also on the board of Eurotunnel. Last night Ms Hewitt said: "I use my Parliamentary pass very rarely; I do not use it for private business purposes."

Tom Levitt (Lab 1997-2010)

Mr Levitt set up Sector 4 Focus in 2010. The organisation is a consultancy which promotes partnerships between businesses and charities for mutual benefit. The organisation works on a number of areas and its website mentions that it also "facilitates engagement with government, local government and business through training and workshops". Mr Levitt said: "I have a small number of clients, mostly charities seeking better working relations with businesses. I have at no point used my Former Members' Parliamentary pass to gain access to ministers."

Jane Kennedy (Lab 1992-2010)

Ms Kennedy was listed on the Association of Professional Political Consultants register (June-August 2011) as a consultant for Westbourne Communications. Westbourne confirmed that Ms Kennedy provided a small amount of consultancy work for their High Speed Rail Network project. Ms Kennedy said: "I use it mostly for seeing friends apart from during the No2Av campaign and I make no apology for that. But I have never used it for business purposes."

Claire Ward (Lab 1997-2010)

Ward was Labour MP for Watford from 1997 to 2010 and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice from 2009-10. She now works as chief executive at the Independent Pharmacy Federation, which, according to its website as "the only body to politically represent independent pharmacies exclusively, it is often invited to comment to governmental and non-governmental organisations on issues affecting independent pharmacy."

Gillian Merron (Lab 1997-2010)

Ms Merron works as a consultant for the public affairs team of Cool Milk, one of the UK's leading school milk suppliers.

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
News
people
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Legal Cashier - Oxford

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Legal Cashier - Oxford We have an excellent ...

Legal Cashier - Oxford

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Legal Cashier - Oxford We have an excellent ...

Production and Merchandising Assistant

£19,000 - £21,000: Sauce Recruitment: A contemporary, original wholesale distr...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor