LETTER: Unreasonable reactions to Nolan

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From Mr Ray Thomas

Sir: The debate on the Nolan committee report does not show the House of Commons in a favourable light.

Sir Edward Heath bemoans the growth of suspicion about MPs' integrity but pursues his argument that to be open about MPs' earnings "would be a serious blow to democracy" (report, 20 May). Surely it is more reasonable to argue that secrecy about MPs' earnings adds to suspicion about the integrity of their activities?

The inference of Nolan is not that MPs are crooks, as Anthony Steen, MP for South Hams, suggests. The inference of Nolan is that the lobbying activities of MPs should be governed by rules and procedures.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP argues that Parliament would be damaged if MPs' individual activities were open to question by anyone outside Parliament. But while Nolan makes some recommendations, the report does not suggest than any body other than Parliament should decide on the rules and procedures that should govern MPs' lobbying activities.

Parliament is already the supreme political body, unchecked by any written constitution. Why should Parliament also be the supreme judicial body in deciding whether MPs have followed the prescribed rules and procedure?

Yours sincerely,


Milton Keynes,


19 May