Lobby ban to oust CIG’s lord

| 17/02/2014

(CNS): Members of the British House of Lords will be banned from lobbying in a shake-up of the UK’s parliamentary rules, published Monday. In changes to the Lords Code of Conduct, peers will be banned from lobbying members of either the Commons or Lords, ministers or government officials “in return for payment or other reward”, which means the Cayman Island Government will need to re-think its current employment of Lord Blencathra in the London office. Blencathra, who is paid over CI$19,500 a month to represent Cayman in the UK’s corridors of power, was appointed by former premier McKeeva Bush in 2011.

The appointment caused some controversy locally as the head of the London office has traditionally been a Caymanian. Sources close to the governor’s office at the time confirmed to CNS that there had also been some concerns in the FCO about the decision.

Those concerns were raised ahead of a complaint filed by a Labour MP when the UK media revealed that Blencathra was lobbying for what many considered a tax haven. In its report setting out the new rules, the House of Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee specifically mentioned the case of Lord Blencathra as a reason why the changes are necessary.

In 2012 The Independent newspaper and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed the former MP and Tory chief whip was being paid by the Cayman Islands to represent the interests of the financial services industry. As part of his job, he also lobbied Chancellor George Osborne to reduce air passenger transport taxes and facilitated an all-expenses-paid trip to the islands for three UK MPs.

A complaint against him was rejected by the Lords authorities on the grounds that there was “no evidence that Lord Blencathra exercised parliamentary influence on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government Office in the United Kingdom” and he had not breached the rules at the time. 

However, in its report on Monday the Lords made it clear the loophole would be closed.

CNS contacted the financial services ministry, which is responsible for Blencathra’s contract in the London office, and later received a response from the premier’s office.

“The Cayman Islands Government is aware of and is taking into consideration a report that bans members of the House of Lords from lobbying ministers,” the release stated, but the office made no comment about Blencathra’s contract with CIG. CNS has also contacted Lord Blencathra and is awaiting a response.

Paul Flynn, the Labour MP who made the complaint about the Tory peer, told the Independent he welcomed the change. 

“The previous rules had a dangerous loophole that was not compatible to the principles of transparency that should be fundamental to public life. The idea a peer could divide themselves in two with one half being a lobbyist and the other being a parliamentarian was always absurd and I am delighted the Lords Authorities have recognised this.”

The revised code of conduct will also require members of the House of Lords to register any gift or hospitality worth more than £140, compared to the previous limit of £500, bringing them into line with the threshold for government ministers. The new rules will come into effect once that have been ratified by a vote of the whole House of Lords.

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Category: Politics

Comments (15)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Strange how things happen. The average ANNUAL pay of a British soldier is 24,000 KYD per year. The only way this pay increases is if they are operationally deployed in Afghanistan, etc.

    Lord Blencathra gets almost the same amount Monthly using and exercising political freedoms on behalf of others. The same apparatus that has been safeguarded, earned and protected by the same British soldier.

    I think it may be time for them to swap places as one has earned his money.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Anyone else think he looks like Robin Williams the Actor?

  3. pmilburn says:

    Say what?We paying that kind of money for WHAT?Stop payment right away.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This has been a London cocktail party circuit for the last 30 years with no real benefit accruing to Cayman from a hideously expensive location andappointments like this one and also McKeeva's supporters. CLOSE IT.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Good riddance to another of McKeeva's money wasting antics.

    The CI$468,000 yealy paid this man was a total waste of money.

    No tears being shed here to see him go.

     

  6. Anonymous says:

    Was there any "value for money" in this appointment?

     

    If so, where is the evidence?

     

    If not, why did we pay this man so much?

     

    Lots of questions, no answers, lots of money down the drain.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Is he still employing half his family in his "office"?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, both his wife and son I believe.  Does anyone know how much of that $19,500 goes to them and exactly what they do?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Close the London Office. It is a waste of money and has been for 20 years or more.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Good riddance. The guy is a waste of money.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think we need to break the contract with Blenny Boy and make McKeeva our representative in London. Some people will be quick to say that McKeeva doesn't know anything about what's happening in London. However, McKeeva has served the people of West Bay for around 30 years, and has led the country for 8 years, and never once has he given me the impression that he knew anything about what was happening in the Cayman Islands.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What a ridiculous waste of money….payments to this man should be stopped IMMIDIATELY….typical MacKeeva waste of our money…..please stop it now.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Now fire Lord Blencathra and his family and start the immediate savings for the Cayman office.