House of Lords votes to suspend “cash for amendments” peers

May 21, 2009 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

suspendedpeersLord Taylor and Lord Truscott

Two Labour peers have been suspended from the Lords for six months yesterday after the House approved sanctions recommended by the Committee for Privileges.

It concluded Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn were willing to change laws in exchange for money, after a sting operation by the Sunday Times newspaper.

They both deny the paper’s version of events.

Reporters posing as lobbyists for a foreign company looking to set up a chain of shops in the UK approached several peers to see if they would accept bribes to help the company obtain an exemption from the Business Rates Supplements Bill.

Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn were accused by the Sunday Times of being willing to change laws in exchange for cash.

The Committee for Privileges took evidence from the peers but concluded that Lord Truscott offered services that amounted to breaches of the prohibition in the Code on “exercising parliamentary influence” in return for financial inducement.

They rejected his defence, that throughout these conversations he was maintaining a clear distinction between the legitimate provision of advice to lobbyists, and personal involvement amounting to “paid advocacy”.

Lord Taylor’s evidence to the committee was branded “inherently so implausible that we do not find ourselves able to attach much weight to it, particularly when it is set alongside the strength of the evidence to be found so abundantly in the transcripts of his meetings with the undercover journalists.”

It is thought to be the first time such sanctions have been taken against peers since the 17th century.

The Lords voted unanimously for their suspension.

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