Former Minister sorry over lobbying breach

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A CONSERVATIVE peer has offered a “sincere apology” after he broke Lords rules on lobbying.

Lord Blencathra, a Minister in John Major’s Government, was ordered to apologise to the House of Lords over a contract he agreed with the Cayman Islands’ government.

However the peer, the former Penrith and The Border MP David Maclead, was spared a more serious punishment after the committee considering the matter accepted he had made clear he was not prepared to lobby Parliament as part of his consultancy role.

His proposed apology, which will be delivered once it has been approved by the committee, says: “I misled myself into thinking that, since it was understood that I would not be making representations in reality, then the wording did not matter. But words do matter; I was wrong and I apologise to the House for that misjudgment.

“I deeply regret having breached the code in this way and the embarrassment to the House that I recognise is caused by such conduct. I offer the House my sincere apology.”

Meanwhile MPs have been criticised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for not approving tougher rules on lobbying.

The measures were intended to tighten controls on lobbying and declaring interests in the wake of a series of controversies.

However, Leader of the House Andrew Lansley has been refusing to bring any of the proposals before parliament because he believes MPs would reject the idea of probes into their private behaviour. Similar plans were voted down in March 2012.

Writing in the foreword to her annual report, Ms Hudson said: “It is extremely disappointing that time has not been found for such a debate, not least because the new rules are considerably clearer on certain issues, including some which have been the subject of inquiries this year.