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.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam