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28th Nov, 2021

Shadow minister calls for investigation into Rugby MP alleging ‘possible breaches of parliamentary lobbying rules’

Editorial Correspondent 16th Nov, 2021 Updated: 16th Nov, 2021

THE HEAD of the civil service has been asked to investigate Rugby MP Mark Pawsey for ‘possible breaches of parliamentary lobbying rules’.

Shadow cabinet office minister Fleur Anderson has written to cabinet secretary Simon Case, asking him to investigate officials’ communication with four Conservative MPs, including Mr Pawsey.

She raised concern that Mr Pawsey had spoken in Parliament in favour of plastic manufacturers while taking a £30,000-a-year second job as Chairman of the Foodservice Packaging Association.

Since he took up the role in April 2020, he has twice spoken in the House of Commons to voice concern over the effect environmental laws will have on plastic producers.

Mr Pawsey, who also leads Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Packaging Manufacturing Industry, told Parliament it was a ‘sad day’ during a June 2020 Environmental Protection debate over banning the use single-use plastic straws and stirrers.

And during an Environment Bill debate in January this year, he said retailers and manufacturers should not be made to pay a bigger proportion of the cost of recycling and disposing of packaging, saying: “It is not the packaging manufacturer that is the polluter – people are.”

Ms Anderson has asked Mr Case to investigate correspondence with officials between the MPs and firms involved.

She wrote: “There are significant questions to answer regarding how these companies and MPs relate to government Ministers and government policy.

“All of these cases raise significant red flags for possible breaches of lobbying and conflict of interest rules.

“As we have seen with the Owen Paterson corruption scandal, many of these cases of consultancy and advisory work involve correspondence and meetings between Ministers, officials, companies and the MPs they pay as consultants. I am sure you will want to address any concerns around propriety.”

Mr Pawsey said: “In 2020 I was asked by the members of Foodservice Packaging Association to take on the role of chairman. I immediately declared this interest on the register of Members’ Interests and have drawn attention to it on each occasion that I have spoken on matters relating to the sector in Parliament.

“At a time when the government is looking at the future role for packaging and bringing forward new rules and regulations, I believe it is helpful for someone with a long working experience of the sector to contribute to an important debate.”

MPs are under growing scrutiny for holding second jobs outside Parliament after MP Owen Paterson resigned over his position as a £100,000-a-year lobbyist for two private firms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday (November 16) that a ban on MPs working as paid consultants should be adopted urgently to stop them from ‘exploiting their positions’.

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