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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lunch for honours

Today's Guardian reports that the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, has launched a full-scale inquiry into the "dinners for cash" scandal involving 19 Conservative MPs and peers, including the party leader, David Cameron:

The decision, relayed to a private meeting of MPs on the standards and privileges committee yesterday, caused fresh embarrassment for two Conservatives on the committee. Sir George Young, the chairman, had to declare an interest that he had organised dinners. Nicholas Soames, the former defence minister and MP for Mid Sussex, also had to declare an interest over a patrons' club which used the Commons. Both will not be able to rule on the findings of Sir Philip.

The dossier, which included details of dinners held over the past three months, revealed that a number of Conservative associations were offering privileged membership through patrons' clubs advertised on their websites.

Among the prominent Tories under investigation are George Osborne, the shadow chancellor; Alan Duncan, shadow industry secretary; Lord Heseltine, the former deputy PM; Oliver Letwin, the policy chief, and Michael Ancram, the former shadow foreign secretary and deputy leader of the party.

As if to prove the old Corporal Jones adage that "they don't like it up 'em", the decision has sparked off a counter-offensive from Tory MPs, some of whom are questioning how Labour MP, Kevan Jones, got hold of the information in the first place. This will prove to be an interesting diversion over the next few months as we await the outcome of the investigation.
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