Peers banned from lobbying in return for money or rewards

Committee outlines shake-up in Parliamentary rules following exposé by ‘The Independent’

whitehall editor

Members of the House of Lords are to be banned from lobbying ministers for money in a shake-up of Parliamentary rules following an exposé in The Independent.

Under changes to the Lords Code of Conduct published on Monday, peers will be banned from lobbying members of either the Commons or Lords, ministers or government officials “in return for payment or other reward”.

Staff who work for them and who hold a Parliamentary pass will also be required to register “all third-party employment” regardless of whether or not that employer is engaged in Parliamentary lobbying.

In addition, peers will also have to register any gift or hospitality worth more than £140 compared to the previous limit of £500, bringing them into line with the threshold for Government ministers.

In its report setting out the new rules, the House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee specifically mentioned the case of Lord Blencathra as a reason why the changes are necessary. In 2012 The Independent and Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed the former MP and Tory chief whip was being paid by the Cayman Islands government to represent the interests of its financial services industry.

As part of his job, he lobbied the Chancellor George Osborne to reduce the burden of air passenger transport taxes on the Caymans and facilitated an all-expenses-paid trip to the islands for three senior MPs, including the chairman of the influential Tory backbench 1922 Committee. But a complaint against him was rejected by the Lords authorities on the grounds that there was “no evidence that Lord Blencathra exercised parliamentary influence on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government Office in the United Kingdom” and that he had therefore not breached the rules at the time.

However, in its report on Monday, the committee noted: “As currently drafted [the code] does not explicitly prohibit Members themselves lobbying ministers or officials in return for payment or other incentive or reward.”

It adds: “We do not believe this loophole was intended when the prohibition on providing parliamentary services in return for payment was introduced in the 2010 Code. In addition, recent cases on which we have reported indicate some Members seemed to believe providing parliamentary services in return for payment is within the rules so long as it is registered and, where appropriate, declared. That is evidently not the case.”

A footnote to the report references the Lord Blencathra case. Paul Flynn, the Labour MP who referred Lord Blencathra to the Commissioner for Lords Standards, said he welcomed the new rules.

“The previous rules had a dangerous loophole that was not compatible to the principles of transparency that should be fundamental to public life. The idea a peer could divide themselves in two with one half being a lobbyist and the other being a Parliamentarian was always absurd and I am delighted the Lords Authorities have recognised this.”

The new rules will come into effect after being ratified by a vote of the whole House of Lords. No-one from the Privileges and Conduct Committee was available to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk