Lobbyists have accused the Government of scapegoating their industry to deflect attention from the inappropriate behaviour of serving politicians who sell “consultancy services” for cash.
Today The Independent revealed that a senior Conservative peer, who denied that he had ever lobbied MPs and peers on behalf of a Caribbean tax haven, had signed a £12,000-a-month contract that stated he would do so.
The revelations into Lord Blencathra’s contract with the Cayman Islands government may form the basis of a new investigation by the Lords Commissioner for Standards, who had previously cleared the peer of breaching parliamentary rules.
The Labour MP Paul Flynn has written to Paul Kernaghan, the Commissioner, asking him to re-open his investigation.
But senior representatives of the lobbying industry claimed that while they would never appoint a sitting peer to do such work, it appeared there was still no effective ban on Lords making money for themselves.
They added that the Government’s Lobbying Bill would do nothing to address the problem and was merely being used as a smokescreen.
Francis Ingham, director general of Public Relations Consultants Association, said that to engage the services of a serving politician was “thoroughly inappropriate”.
“It is against the industry’s own code of conduct to employ a sitting peer, but seemingly not against the rules governing these legislators,” he said.