Tory trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has insisted the UK wants a “rich mix” in the House of Lords – but it backfired.
This weekend the Conservatives were caught up in a new scandal after an investigation found multimillionaires donating at least £3 million to the Tories appeared to be ‘guaranteed’ a seat in the upper chamber.
“We want a rich mix in the House of Lords of voices with experiences of all the sectors of our country,” Trevelyan told Sky News presenter Kay Burley.
‘Rich’ being the operative word here
But Burley reacted promptly, to the amusement of viewers: “‘Rich’ being the operative word there.”
Trevelyan also spoke about the scandal emerging from the government initially trying to prevent the suspension of former Tory MP Owen Paterson, who meanwhile resigned, after being found guilty of taking hundreds of thousands of pounds in lobbying cash.
She said the issue of second jobs for government representatives has “kicked around for many years” but that recycled the idea that it is “the way we have a wonderful mix of colleagues”, citing those who continue to serve the society as doctors or nurses.
Meanwhile, Labour MP Chris Bryant told Burley that there is already a rule in the UK on whether MPs should have lobbying jobs.
Existing lobbying rules
“We’ve had it since 1695,” he said, adding: “It says that you can’t engage in paid advocacy and otherwise you can’t lobby government ministers and officials on behalf of a paying client of yours.”
“That’s exactly what Owen Paterson was found guilty of. He did it not just once but on 14 occasions. He was being paid £112,000 a year which is more than the average cost of a house in my constituency and he pursued the commercial interests of his paying clients.
“It’s very clearly already forbidden.”
Last week, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said Boris Johnson is “the biggest problem of all” citing Tory scandals before the Owen Paterson row.
During BBC’s Question Time, Lucas slammed the prime minister for caring “nothing” about Parliamentary standards, decency and the rule of law.
She said: “You can’t just go around changing the rules when you don’t like them and that’s exactly what this prime minister is doing and it goes much wider sadly than just Owen Paterson.
“We’ve seen him do something similar when he simply prorogued Parliament, when he didn’t like what Parliament was doing over Brexit, he refused to sack Priti Patel when she was accused of bullying and he himself of course, is the biggest problem of all.”