UK Politics

Ex-minister Caborn urges Commons pass return

Richard Caborn
Image caption Richard Caborn stood down from Parliament earlier this year

Ex-Labour minister Richard Caborn has argued that the decision to remove his parliamentary pass should be reversed.

The former MP's pass was taken away for six months after Commons authorities found he had been "careless" in telling reporters posing as lobbyists how he was able to influence ministers.

In a letter, Mr Caborn said the punishment was more "severe" than that laid down for such an offence.

He added that he had been told he could not appeal against the pass removal.

The Commons' Standards and Privileges Committee carried out an investigation into interviews given by six former MPs - all of whom stood down at the election - to a Sunday Times journalist posing as a representative of a fictitious lobbying company and inquiring about services they would be able to provide after leaving Parliament.

'Totally at odds'

Sections of the interviews were later broadcast on the Channel 4 show Dispatches, which led to complaints against the MPs concerned.

The committee found Mr Caborn - who spoke to the reporters about the ways in which he could influence ministers - had breached the rules but these infractions were "more the result of careless oversight than deliberate intention".

It said his suggestion that he might receive a peerage after leaving the Commons "reflected poorly on him" and that he had not declared a relevant interest after sponsoring three events in Parliament on behalf of outside organisations.

In his letter, Mr Caborn, who now works as a strategic adviser to Sheffield University's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, expressed his "concern" about the withdrawal of his Commons photo pass.

He added that he found the decision to be "totally at odds "with the committee's decision that none of the breaches was intentional and had not brought "the House or its Members arguably into disrepute".

Mr Caborn said he had been told there was no right of appeal, arguing that he had been found guilty of "not intentionally" bringing the Commons into disrepute, the punishment for which is making an oral or written apology.

A ban from Parliament - the effect of a pass being removed - was only applicable if someone had "deliberately" done so, he said.

But, speaking for the government, deputy Commons leader David Heath said: "These debates are never easy. The House can take no pleasure in imposing sanctions on members and former members who breach the code of conduct.

"But it's something we must do if we're to have any hope of restoring and maintaining public faith in the House."

Former ministers Geoff Hoon and Stephen Byers were also rebuked by the committee, which suspended Mr Byers' pass for two years and Mr Hoon's for five years.

However, the same committee has dismissed complaints against former MPs Patricia Hewitt, Adam Ingram and Sir John Butterfill.

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