Sunday, 2 June 2013
stands for All Party Parliamentary Group, as any fule kno. Nearly all MPs are members of a number of these, usually because they are interested in the issue, country, region or whatever with which the group is concerned. But these groups need to have members and officers from all parties, and also a minimum of 18 members, so it is also common for MPs to join such groups when they have no particular interest, to oblige a colleague, who may then oblige back. In fact the main reason for setting up or joining such groups for many MPs is a constituency one. If there is an active support group in the constituency on, for instance, a health issue, then the local MP will think it a good idea to set up or join an all-party group on that issue. .I did this on the health issue of fibromyalgia during my time as MP for Reading East, because the fibromyalgia support group in the Reading area was very active and energetic. There was a similarly energetic group in Nottingham and so the Nottingham MPs all joined the fibromyalgia group and often attended its meetings. There's nothing improper about any of this. What is of course improper is to be paid for tabling questions and meeting ministers. Or to seek payment. It appears that the delightful fellow known as Lord Cunningham of Felling, formerly Jack Cunningham, MP for Copeland and a minister in Tony Blair's government, and incidentally a close associate, and former employer, of the longstanding councillor in Reading Tony Page, has been stung by journalists on this very issue. Never one to stint himself, he allegedly asked for £144,000 a year to work on behalf of a fictitious South Korean solar energy company. Others have been caught the same way. What I ask myself is this: these men have been in politics, and in Parliament, for decades. Why then are they so naive that when approached by people purporting to represent a company or organisation, they don't just Google the name they are given before any meeting, and certainly before entering into any discussion? Like, der. Anyway, couldn't happen to a nicer fellow. Git, I knew he was that. Venal, corrupt git? I suspected he was that.