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« Energy prices - the truth | Main | The nature of scientific advice »
Thursday
Nov212013

Yeoverjoyed

The hot news is that Tim Yeo has been cleared of the allegations of influence peddling that emerged last year in the wake of a sting operation by the Sunday Times.

Mr Yeo is apparently "very pleased".

The original video from the Sunday Times is here; the report into Mr Yeo's conduct is here.

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Reader Comments (25)

I wonder how much influence he brought to bear on the Standards Cttee to get that result?

Nov 21, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Lohse

Mr Yeo is apparently "very pleased".

I'm not.

Nov 21, 2013 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

PS How can he possibly have been be cleared when there is a video in which he is heard saying what he was accused of? Refer to Kevin Lohse above.

Nov 21, 2013 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Ah,.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9621818/Expenses-scandal-Kevin-Barron-claimed-1500-a-month-to-rent-from-colleague.html

Nov 21, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Life's too short to read about how the Trougher has been such a good boy. I wonder how much it cost the taxpayers to produce yet another whitewash.

Nov 21, 2013 at 2:58 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The report on this from Guido Fawkes

(http://order-order.com/2013/11/21/fellow-mps-clear-one-of-their-ye-own/)

sounds depressingly familiar to the Penn State non-investigation of Michael Mann - they addressed one point and found not enough evidence, so absolved him of everything. Shameful, just shameful.

Nov 21, 2013 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Potter

Money quote from Guido:

"This was a niche inquiry into just one accusation, and Yeo’s colleagues have chosen to turn a blind eye to the rest of his money grabbing ways."

Nov 21, 2013 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Potter

It does not matter what he said on the tape recording. He is a politician, and everyone knows that politicians do not mean what they say. A perfect defence. "You mean you beleived me? "

Nov 21, 2013 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterWJohn

Who got banned from the Daily Telegraph, then? Quite an achievement. No names, no pack drill...

Nov 21, 2013 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

He's the Daddy now

Nov 21, 2013 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Let us hope that his constituents will deselect him.

Nov 21, 2013 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

given it was normal pratice for MP , its no real surprise

Nov 21, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

I wrote to my MP about Yeo and Deben; "the more I read of the vested interests of people like Yeo and Deben, the more I despair" and this was his response:

" I would stop short of accusing either of corruption but they should (and I suspect do) declare their interests so that any views they express can be contextualised. I hope I’m a moderate in these matters and am pleased therefore that the carbon levy is, apparently, being examined in the context of the autumn statement, particularly since too much of it goes to bail out useless onshore wind farms which, on a good day, yield energy which is much more expensive than the nuclear that I regard as being genuinely green."

The trouble is, their views aren't "contextualised" - as I wrote in my letter quoting a comment from Bishop Hill, "First Yeo then Deben, the renewables industry is rife with vested interests and corruption".

Nov 21, 2013 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

I'll repeat what he said to me when I challenged him in public about a year ago - I asked how he could possibly be regarded as a neutral or even credible authority on climate and energy policies given his financial interests in renewables. His response? -

"It will be a dark day in Parliament when outside financial interests are not allowed."

In other words: Shut up prole!

Nov 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

Absolutely unbelieveable.

However there is still a Police investigation going on isn't there?

In this connection I have a letter from the HoC Commissioner for Standards saying they couldn't investigate Teflon Tim whilst a Police investigation was going on.

I'll pass this on.

Nov 21, 2013 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

He seems to have got away with it by claiming that he was only joking when he said that he had coached a representative of a company he had financial interest in about what to say to his committee.

But he was given this severe ticking off:
“As a senior Member of the House, Mr Yeo should consider more carefully the impact of his comments. I hope he will do so in future.”

The report says:
"There are two aspects of his behaviour, which are linked and which might be thought to damage the reputation of the House" but then goes on to say
"I do not consider that Mr Yeo’s conduct reached the high bar of causing significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House".

In other words, you have to do something really really bad to break the rules.

Nov 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

In essence this is a let off by insiders, the crucial passage being that the Committee deplores "stings". In other words, they know that what Yeo did was unethical but not illegal, and they are probably all culpable in that. If this mockery of an MP had any decency he would not re-take his highly paid chairmanship owing to this embarrassment, yet everyone knows he will not, and there are not enough MPs ready to make his life a misery. Call this a democracy?

Nov 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

Perhaps we should individually let the Prime Ministers Office know exactly what we think. And perhaps we each know other people who might also be prepared to express their own opinion on this matter. I do not know if it will do any good, in this context probably not as Select committee chairs are no longer in the PMs purview, but at least a few tens of or a hundred or so emails might cause a little disquiet, especially at the present time. I have expressed my disgust in similar terms to the responders here.

Come on, if we can comment or read these posts another five minutes effort can't be too much:

https://email.number10.gov.uk/contact.aspx

Nov 21, 2013 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

I've only had a brief look at the report but, given that media coverage is presenting Yeo as being pure as the driven snow, I found this interesting:

"48. Mr Yeo told me in interview that he did not see his meeting with the journalists as a job interview or a possible recruitment discussion. He said “I didn’t see it as recruitment. I saw it as an opportunity to learn about a technology ... I was learning about the technology first and foremost and there was a very very brief reference to the possibility of paid employment.” I do not accept this version of events. The initial email from “Robyn Fox” makes it clear that the interview was to discuss a possible consultancy and Mr Yeo responds speedily, finding time in a busy diary to meet her a week later."

Nov 21, 2013 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

I'm e-mailing!
Bent as a nine-bob note he is!

Nov 21, 2013 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

I think the last paragraph (para 14) of the report from the HoC Committee on Standards is interesting:

"Mr Speaker has already raised with us the question of whether there might be “an inherent incompatibility between chairing a Select Committee and having commercial interests, even though fully transparently registered, in the sector covered by that Committee”. We delayed consideration of this issue until the current case was completed, but are now ready to take it forward."

Tim Yeo's commercial interests are mainly in renewable energy businesses, a sector which simply would not exist were it not for Government decisions and legislation obliging taxpayers and electricity consumers to pay money to it; renewable energy costs more to produce than its market value. There is surely therefore an overwhelming case that there is a conflict of interest if a member of a Select Committee which influences Government policy determining these revenue streams from subsidies earns money him/herself from businesses which receive those subsidies. This also applies to the UK's "independent" Committee on Climate Change chaired by Lord Deben. Declaring a conflict of interest does not mean that it does not exist and legislators simply should not have conflicts of interest, especially in sectors whose revenue and very existence depends on Government imposed subsidies.

Where people have in the past earned money from subsidised businesses but then resigned these positions, like Deben, surely they too should not sit on committees influencing subsidies because they are quite likely to end up earning money in the future from the businesses whose profits they have helped create - it is widely recognised that "revolving door" appointments create conflicts of interest as well, e.g. the weapons business and ex MoD & Army people.

Yeo & Deben are classic rent seekers and it is quite extraordinary that the Conservative Party leadership cannot see what an electoral liability they are, especially after losing the 1997 election partly because of a series of "Tory sleaze" scandals. It is not just a matter of being on one side or the other of the CO2 debate, it is also a wider test of the Tories' integrity, morality and legitimacy in government which these two people are causing them to fail abjectly.

The Committee on Standards should not find it hard to decide quickly that chairing and also, surely, membership of a Select Committee is inherently incompatible with having business interests in the sector covered by that Committee. Isn't that conclusion a no brainer?

Nov 21, 2013 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterGuy Leech

Fortunately Yeo's local party association is fed up with his behaviour and attitude over the years, and a serious push is under way to deselect him as the Tory candidate for the next election...

Nov 21, 2013 at 11:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

None investigating was/is innocent enough to cast the first stone.

Nov 22, 2013 at 6:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

At the risk of being counter-cultural, I think that it was entirely appropriate that the Standards Committee decided that the case against Yeo was not proven. I would have reached the same conclusion - based on the evidence available.

The real elephant is that there is no de facto parliamentary rule that says you cannot be a member of an influential Select Committee if you have related commercial interests which might set up a conflict. If I understand the situation correctly, the existing rules only require that such interests are declared prior to being nominated for a committee. This is outrageous. It is also staggering; I cannot imagine how this absurdity in the system has managed to obtain for hundreds of years without producing multiple scandals. (Any historians out there?) Or perhaps taking commercial advantage from one's political position was not previously viewed as an abuse of power?

At least now the Speaker has asked the Standards Committee to "consider this issue". Let us hope that this doesn't take another couple of centuries.

Nov 22, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K

The situation is not quite as bad as my previous note would suggest. the following is taken from the Parliamentary Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members 2009, which can be found here:-
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmcode/735/735.pdf

83. Members of Select Committees on any matter or Bill are bound by the Resolution of
the House of 13 July 1992 which approved certain paragraphs of a Report by the Select
Committee on Members’ Interests relating to the financial interests of Chairmen and
members of Select Committees.19 The main provisions are:
• before the Committee proceeds to the election of a Chairman all Members
nominated to serve upon a Select Committee are required to send to the Clerk of the
Committee details of any financial interests for circulation to the Committee under
the authority of the senior Member before its first meeting. The procedure is not
necessary in the case of Select Committees of a wholly procedural nature. [Paragraph
25]
• “when a member of a Committee, particularly the Chairman, has a financial interest
which is directly affected by a particular inquiry or when he or she considers that a
personal interest may reflect upon the work of the Committee or its subsequent
Report, the Member should stand aside from the Committee proceedings relating to
it.” [Paragraph 24]
• “before proceeding to business after the election of the Chairman, the Chairman of
the Committee should invite all members of the Committee to declare any interests
they may have which relate to the terms of reference of that Committee, or which are
19 Select Committee on Members’ Interests, First Report, Session 1990–91, HC 108.The paragraphs which the House
specifically approved were: 8–16, 24 and 25.The references in square brackets relate to the paragraphs in that
Report.
Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members
32
likely to be relevant to a substantial part of the work which the Committee may be
expected to undertake”. [Paragraph 13]
• “A Member should make a declaration of interest at an early stage in any inquiry to
which that interest particularly relates. If the interest is especially relevant to one
witness or group of witnesses appearing before the Committee, the interest should be
declared again at the appropriate session of evidence”. [Paragraph 13]
• A Member is required to “declare an interest when asking any questions which relate
directly, or which might reasonably be thought by others to relate directly, to the
financial interest he or she holds ... Such a declaration must be made irrespective of
any declaration having been made at an earlier meeting of the Committee”. One such
declaration is sufficient for any questions asked of the same witnesses during one
evidence Session. [Paragraph 13]
• “Although the main purpose of declaration of interest is to inform colleagues, it is
right that witnesses and the public, if the Committee is meeting in public, should also
be informed. When a Committee meets in public, declaration of interest should be in
public Session. When a Committee meets in private and regularly takes oral evidence,
declaration should be made when witnesses are present.” [Paragraph 13]
• “In making any declaration a Member should clearly identify the nature of the
financial interest. The form in which a declaration of interest is made, and its extent,
must be primarily for the individual Member.” A casual reference is not sufficient. “A
Member should make a declaration in clear terms and should ensure that such a
declaration is entered in the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee.”
[Paragraph 14]
• It is “perfectly acceptable for a Member, when declaring an interest which is
registered in the Register of Members’ Interests ... to refer to his or her entry in the
Register”. [Paragraph 16] (But see also the more extensive guidance in paragraph 76
above.)
• “we stress the importance of declaration when relevant and of declaring a financial
interest at the moment when it is most appropriate to do so. We do not wish to create
a situation where the proceedings of Committees are frequently interrupted by
declarations of tangential relevance to what is being considered ... the interests that a
Member is required to register may not be at all relevant to his or her work on the
Select Committee and consequently may never need to be declared during its
proceedings.” [Paragraph 16]
84. Where the subject matter of an inquiry of a Select Committee is of direct concern to an
outside body in which a Member has a financial interest, the Member must consider
whether on grounds of conflict of interest it is proper to take part in the inquiry. The
Member must also consider whether the relationship of his or her interest to the subject of
the inquiry is so close that it is not possible to participate effectively in the inquiry without
crossing the borderline into advocacy.

So it appears that the request by the Speaker is not for the Standards Committee to consider whether the rules on conflict of interest are appropriate, but for a specific examination of whether Mr Yeo has put himself in breach of those rules. Mmm, he may not be out of the woods yet.

Nov 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K

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