I report tonight, from outside the House of Lords, the upper chamber of Parliament to a nation with a long, proud, but not always entirely honourable history. The Sunday Times claimed yesterday that four Labour peers, including Lord Taylor of Blackburn, were prepared to change the law for cash. In a statement to the House of Lords earlier, Lady Royall called the claims “deeply shocking”. She pointed out that they were only allegations at this stage but said the claims had been “damaging not just to this House but to Parliament and politics”. She said the matter had been referred to the Lords Interests sub committee, which had already met and investigations were underway.
I met up with Lord CashnCarry, who, clearly, does not read newspapers or watch television, to see if he might be up for a bit of ‘bending the rules’. Our conversation, which I recorded, went as follows.
Transcript of conversation between Charon and Lord CashnCarry, 26th January 2009
Charon: Psssst…. Lord CashnCarry?
Lord CashnCarry: Yes….
Charon: Thanks for coming… anyone following you?
Lord CashnCarry: No… not that I am aware of.
Charon: Good…. I’ve got a client who is very interested in the Prawn, Pike and Salmon Restriction on Fishing Bill 2009 being proposed by the government.
Lord CashnCarry: Oh yes… very interesting Bill this. I’m a bit of an angler myself and not just the fishing type… if you get my drift.
Charon: Indeed… your reputation precedes you.
Lord CashnCarry: So… what can I do for you… a spot of adjusting? A bit of derogation? Perhaps even a full scale revision of the Bill?
Charon: I gather you have had some success recently in… shall we say… delaying a bill?
Lord CashnCarry: Absolutely. Yes… put in a small amendment here, another small one there…. you do it quietly behind the scenes you see
Charon: Do you put these amendements yourself?
Lord CashnCarry: No no no no no. You don’t do things like that. That’s stupid. What you do is you talk to the parliamentary team who drafts the statute as it goes through and you point out to them the difficulty the ‘interested party’ would be having on this…
Charon: Do you talk directly to the Minister?
Lord CashnCarry: No no no no no. You don’t do things like that. No no no…. far too many people at the meeting…. things being written down… Oh no… It’s some little chappie half way down…It’s about identifying the decision makers. It’s about identifying the people that make the recommendations…..
Charon: Obviously, from our point of view, this would be something we would remunerate you for. Money is no object on this one.
Lord CashnCarry: Money no object you say?… This is absolutely difficult, this is very difficult for me because some companies that I work for will pay me £100,000 a year.”
Charon: £100,000? Really? Astonishing…
Lord CashnCarry: Oh yes. That’s cheap for what I do for them. One firm gave me a yacht. Another gave me a car to ‘use’… if you get my drift. It all depends on what you are trying to do and how much time I think I am going to spend on it. These are the sort of fees I get. I am being absolutely honest with you. I am not exaggerating. It’s whether I want to do it or not. You’ve got to whet my appetite to get me on board.”
Charon: Well thank you Lord CashnCarry…. I’ll need to consult with the ‘interested party’ and get back to you.
Lord CashnCarry: Right Oh…. don’t take too long.. fortune favours the bold… my own in this case… Ha ha ha….. early bird catches the worm, as they say in the House.
I made my excuses and left.
With apologies to The Sunday Times transcript… you really couldn’t make it up.