Leading article: Lords should not be lobbyists

Share
Related Topics

The House of Lords has its defenders, despite being unelected and despite membership being for life. Its ranks include business leaders, scientists, medical professionals, civil servants, judges, military officers and others who might be put off running for elected office, but bring in a rich experience of life outside politics. They are not paid a salary, though they receive generous attendance allowances, so it is accepted that some will have paid outside employment.

Not any of this is an argument in favour of Lord Blencathra acting as a paid lobbyist for the Cayman Islands. He did not bring any great experience of the outside world into the legislature, because, as David Maclean, he was an MP from the age of 30 until he retired from the Commons, aged 57.

But he brought a vast experience of the inner workings of the British political system to the Caymans, one of the world's favourite tax havens. Almost uniquely, there are more businesses registered in the Caymans than there are inhabitants. Seventy per cent of the world's hedge funds are registered there. Its GDP is the 14th highest in the world.

It is also a British Overseas Territory, dependant on decisions made in Westminster to protect its idyllic way of life. Having an experienced political operator working for its interests inside the Houses of Parliament is obviously valuable for the islands. But it is of no value to the British public. If Lord Blencathra wants to supplement his generous MP's pension by lobbying for a tax haven, that is his right, but the question is, why he should be doing it from the privileged vantage of a seat in the Lords?

The rules which govern elected MPs are clear. They are not allowed to lobby for "reward or consideration" on behalf of any organisation with which they have a declared financial interest. That would clearly have covered some of Lord Blencathra's activities, such as lobbying the Chancellor George Osborne to reduce air passenger transport taxes on the Caymans, if he had still been an MP.

Such actions may not be against the current rules in the House of Lords, but they should be.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital