Byers was one of the queue of Ministers ‘mentioned in Dispatches’ on Channel 4 last week in which he memorably claimed that he was a ‘cab for hire’ by lobbyists who were prepared to pay between £3,000 and £5,000 for his ‘influence’ over government legislation.
At least, that is what he said at first. Then he said:
I’ve been reflecting on our discussion and I’m afraid I completely overstated the part I played in trying to secure changes to the way in which government deals with issues.
In a later e-mail to the programme makers he said:
In the context of our discussion on Tuesday (23rd February) this means that I have not spoken to Andrew Adonis, Hilary Benn, or Peter Mandelson about the matters I mentioned. I’m sorry that I indicated otherwise.
Which as the Spectator points out is a problem….for the very next day, Andrew Adonis told parliament:
“Stephen Byers had a brief conversation with me in the House of Commons last June about the East Coast Mainline. We discussed his experience in dealing with rail franchise difficulties when Transport Secretary. As regards the situation then facing National Express,” he continued, “I told him that despite the company’s difficulties I had no intention whatsoever of renegotiating the East Coast franchise on terms favourable to the company as the company was seeking in its approaches to my department.”
Now we have Byers lying about lying – you might expect a man so confused about his position in relation to taking cash for influencing government legislation to have taken some advice before he embarked on his project with the fictitious Anderson Perry.
Advice is available.
Gordon Brown appointed the life peer with the Ruritanian title of Baron Lang of Monkton, of Merrick and the Rhinns of Kells in Dumfries and Galloway to give former ministers and senior civil servants advice to ensure they don’t use their government contacts when taking up jobs in the private sector.
Lord Lang has faced criticism that his committee has no powers of enforcement, but he can still give advice. One of the things he has never been criticised for is being unavailable.
He certainly wasn’t unavailable to Steven Byers.
Who else was in the queue of former Ministers desperate to investigate the ‘cash on the side’ possibilities offered by Anderson Perry?
None other than Lord Lang of Monkton.
Lord Lang explained: “I do not charge a day rate but operate under an agreed annual fee, for which I am available as required, around a basic structure of an agreed number of regular meetings.”
Lang was not prepared to get his hands personally dirty, you understand, he wanted to hand that job offer over to his pal Jonathon Hill of Quiller Consultants, but was quite happy to submit his CV for the position of giving ‘strategic advice’.
They can’t be trusted to regulate themselves. They just don’t understand what Democracy means.
We need ordinary men and women in parliament, not career politicians.
Support Old Holborn – he’ll shake them up without fear or favour.
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- March 27, 2010 at 11:54