Oliver Wright: Transparency is the key to this problem

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The Independent Online

When the former MPs' pass scheme was set up seven years ago those behind it had honourable intentions. They wanted to make the transition a litle easier from being an MP one day to being unceremoniously ejected from the House of Commons the next.

So the idea was that former members could apply for passes which would still allow them limited access to Parliament to meet former friends and colleagues. But the system is open to criticism. Many former MPs – legitimately – have chosen to use the skills and knowledge they gained in Westminster to advocate causes and businesses which will bring them into contact with former colleagues. Or lobbying, to be blunt. And because there are few checks on their comings and goings there is no way of knowing if this rule is being observed.

This potential conflict could be resolved easily if those MPs who hold passes were required to declare their business interests.

There are signs that the powerful Commons Committee on Standards are sympathetic to the idea of change. It cannot come too soon because the problem is not the lobbying: it is the secrecy.