The Attack on Sleaze: Wider privileges investigation sought

David Alton, the Liberal Democrat member of the Commons Committee of Privileges, will seek to bring allegations against Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, and the actions of Tory backbencher Michael Colvin within its private inquiry into payments to MPs.

The committee is already due next week to discuss bringing Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith, who resigned his Northern Ireland ministerial post last week, within the investigation. But Mr Alton is also demanding details of allegations put to Sir Robin Butler that Mr Howard emphatically denied in a statement yesterday.

Mr Colvin, MP for Romsey and Waterside, admitted on Monday that he had failed to register a consultancy with Stategy Network International, a lobbying firm with strong ties to political interests in South Africa.

These two additional issues will be raised at next week's meeting, along with Mr Alton's objection to the continuance on the committee of Tory member Sir Peter Hordern - who is away in the Far East - because he was once a consultant to Mohamed al-Fayed's Harrods.

The committee went ahead with its first substantive hearing last night - minus its Labour members.

The Tory rump of the committee, plus Mr Alton, listened to tapes and studied transcripts of conversations between a Sunday Times reporter posing as a businessman and the backbench Tory MPs Graham Riddick and David Tredinnick, who originally prompted the 'cash-for-questions' inquiry. Those Tories who were unable to attend are due to listen to the tapes today.

The two MPs are each alleged to have been prepared to accept pounds 1,000 for tabling a parliamentary question.

The Labour members withdrew en bloc in protest at a vote last week to examine key witnesses in private.

Labour MPs have also threatened to withdraw from the Select Committee on Members' Interests, which polices breaches of the register of MPs' interests, if it attempts to hear in private evidence concerning Mr Hamilton's expenses-paid stay at the Paris Ritz.

Senior Tory MPs stood by John Major's rejection of Labour's demands for public hearings. One former committee chairman said: 'It would be trial by television.' MPs would face allegations without representation, he said.

During exchanges following Mr Major's Commons statement, Dame Jill Knight, a Tory on the privileges committee, criticised Labour members for complaining when its report would be published and then debated by the House. Mr Major agreed. But Doug Hoyle, a Labour member, said: 'The public will ask: What has this Government got to hide that it has got to meet in private?'

Mr Riddick and Mr Tredinnick will be examined in person next week. Bill Walker, another Tory MP approached by the Sunday Times, has also been requested to attend.

Labour, meanwhile, used yesterday's Opposition Day debate to accuse the Government of packing National Health Service trust boards with Tory supporters.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Travel
Streets ahead: Venice
travelWhat's trending on your wishlist?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect