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Lobbygate: How Parliament Could Improve Its Reputation With A Simple Rule Change

Isabel Hardman, The Spectator

As Fraser reported earlier, Tim Yeo has stepped aside from the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee chairmanship following the Sunday Times’ sting this weekend. What’s astonishing is not his decision this evening, but that he even had the opportunity to chair the committee when he had quite so many declared interests in the sector. It is a story that Guido Fawkes has been hammering away at for months.

Paul Goodman made the very sensible suggestion on ConHome at the weekend that while there is nothing wrong with run-of-the-mill backbenchers having outside interests, select committee chairmen should be barred from having any interests that might conflict with their role leading the committee. It seemed so sensible that it was rather odd no-one had thought of this before.

Perhaps once the dust has settled from the Yeo allegations – and he is only standing aside while the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards investigates him – this would be an entirely reasonable rule change to aid the reputation of Parliament without damaging the way it does its business. Indeed, a committee chair unburdened by outside influences will help the way Parliament does business, not hinder it.

The Spectator, 10 June 2013