Peers will have to name business clients, says Lords report on interests

 

Members of the House of Lords are to be required to publish the names of their business clients as part of a clampdown on lobbying in the second chamber.

Senior peers, including Lord Mandelson, had been accused of flouting transparency rules by setting up companies and partnerships to avoid having to disclose the names of the firms or individuals that they represent. Under previous rules peers only had to disclose direct sources of employment.

But in a report yesterday the House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee said that in future peers will have to declare sources of income paid to companies which they own, control or of which they are directors, if they personally undertake work on behalf of clients.

The move would address some of the transparency concerns raised by The Independent this week as part of its series investigating the practices of peers sitting in the second chamber.

Among those likely to be affected by the plans is Lord Mandelson, who set up a consultancy called Global Counsel after leaving government. Lord Mandelson does not list Global Counsel's clients on his register of interests because he says the company "respects their privacy".

Other peers who may be forced to declare additional interests include Lord Boateng, a Labour minister under Tony Blair, and more recently the British high commissioner to South Africa. Earlier this week The Independent revealed that he acts as international legal counsel to the consultancy DaMina Advisors, which advises firms with investments in Africa.

However, Lord Boateng does not declare his interest in DaMina on his register of interests. He said: "I am not currently required by the House rules to list my professional clients."

The move could also affect peers like Lord Bell, who runs the lobbying firm Bell Pottinger. At the moment his register only lists him as being chairman of Chime Communications, Bell Pottinger's parent company. Under the new rules he would be expected to provide details of any of his firms' clients for whom he carried out direct work.

Tamasin Cave, from the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, said while the change was welcome more needed to be done. "The Government needs to get on with introducing a register of lobbyists."

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