Row looms over privileges committee: Tories could be hard pressed to find MPs suitable as candidates. Patricia Wynn Davies reports
Wednesday 13 July 1994
On the Labour side, senior privy counsellors such as Tony Benn and Peter Shore were being mooted, along with John Morris, the shadow Attorney General.
Membership of the committee would be decided through the 'normal channels' - negotiation between government and opposition whips. But finding suitable Tories without a wide range of outside commercial interests might prove difficult.
Dale Campbell-Savours, the MP for Workington, who has led calls for an investigation, reminded the House yesterday that the Select Committee on Members' Interests ruled in its 1990-91 report that members should withdraw from select committee inquiries where there were conflicts of interest. More arguments might follow about timing in the run-up to the recess. Labour MPs are keen not to lose momentum.
The ultimate aim of some Labour MPs is not so much to ban all outside interests - that is widely viewed as unrealistic; both Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs hold paid directorships and consultancies - but to stop MPs actively pressing issues on their behalf.
Some MPs predict a good half of the current clutch of consultancies and lobbyists would wither away. More cynical Westminster sources warned, however, against expecting too much from the committee. While its remit is unlimited, there is no rule that it must even make a recommendation.
The last Parliament's committee began investigating the leaking of a draft report of the social security select committee report by one of its members, Jerry Hayes, Tory MP for Harlow. Then came the 1992 election, after which no new committee was appointed. The matter ran quietly into the sand.
On other occasions the committee has shown its teeth. Joe Ashton, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, yesterday told the Commons of his experience before the committee in 1974. He had raised the issue of 'MPs for hire' and was censured for contempt of the House even though he was the whistleblower, not a recipient of money.
In 1957, the then editor of the Sunday Express, John Junor, was forced to apologise for a serious contempt at the Bar of the House over an article about petrol allocations to party organisations.
Rulings are not always followed through by MPs, however. In 1986 they voted against the committee's recommendation that Richard Evans, a Times lobby reporter, should be banned from Parliament for six months over the leaking of a draft defence select committee report.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts
World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas
Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new
Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 3 Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' on Antiques Roadshow by Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 4 Meet Thea, Norway's 12-year-old child bride
Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: Olympic star must serve 10 years, prosecutor urges
Isis fighters 'crucify' 17-year-old boy in Syria
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Oscar Pistorius sentence: Athlete's wealth and notoriety provoke an overdue debate on South African prisons
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Competitive: Notting Hill Prep School: Spring Term 2015 Innovative, ambitious ...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is urgently re...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 Primary Teacher in HullA f...