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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor