Woe indeed is the Labour Party when our members of the Upper House sell their integrity for money. If the allegations against Lords Taylor, Truscott, Moonie and Snape turn out to be true, they will all have breached House of Lords rules. But it goes further than that. In an interview on the Andrew Marr show yesterday morning, Tory returnee Kenneth Clarke, Cameron’s newly appointed Shadow on the BERR portfolio, called the allegations against the four tantamount to corruption. I agree with this. Peers, MPs and MEPs are not to be bought.
There is little appreciation in the UK about the extent of lobbying which takes place in the European Parliament. The EU system resembles the set up in the United States and other European countries, including France, in that the European Parliament is the legislative body, scrutinising and amending legislative proposals put forward by the European Commission. Given that there needs to be agreement between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers (Member State Governments) before the proposals pass into legislation, MEPs have considerable power. Those affected by European legislation, particularly the big business interests, are only too aware of this. Hence the lobbying. I have been contacted by all kinds of organisations from the Ford Motor Company to the Women’s Institute regarding every piece of legislation on which I have worked.
When I do meet lobbyists I do so in my offices in Brussels and Strasbourg. Very occasionally I accept a free lunch or dinner, though usually for rather matters such as the one I recently blogged on when I heard a speech by Mr Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey. Sadly not all my colleagues, especially some Tories and UKIP MEPs, do not take the same view.
Every MEP has had the same experience. We therefore know what we are talking about. I am absolutely clear that it is totally wrong to accept payment from lobbyists. It is even worse to ask for money for facilitating the submitting of amendments. Elected representatives and legislators in the House of Lords are not, and never should be, up for sale.Baroness Jan Royall has handled this sad and sorry matter quickly and decisively. It is to be looked at by the Sub-Committee on the Committee on Privileges, whose verdict I hope will be known sooner rather than later.