The Attack on Sleaze: MPs rush to declare perks and interests

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The Independent Online
Allegations of sleaze have led to a stampede by MPs to declare items that they had omitted to put in the register of members' interests, writes Colin Brown.

Between 40 and 50 MPs have supplied additions to the register in the past fortnight and many more are believed to be writing to the keepers of the register.

'I'm racking my brains to think of anything I should declare that I haven't put in the register,' one minister said.

'I went to the races courtesy of an oil company. I suppose I'd better include that. But I had a day out with Nuclear Electric. Surely that can't count?' one junior minister said.

MPs have also been wondering whether they should have to declare opera tickets supplied to them by companies wanting to bend their ears to the sound of lobbying during the intermission.

MPs are requried to register their interests under nine specific classes, including directorships of companies, remunerated employments, trades, professions and vocations, financial sponsorships, and the names of clients when they making representations to ministers or civil servants.

But since the revelations about nights at the Ritz in Paris, MPs have been looking more closely at the other items they are required to declare.

They include expenses-paid overseas visits and 'any payments or any material benefits or advantages received from or on behalf of foreign governments, organisations or persons'.

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