Of course there is a trade, has been for 70 years and all three main parties are up to their necks in it. Our political system is – apart from Scandinavia- the cleanest in the world. Labour brought in a major reform act to make donations transparent. Sadly there was a loophole on loans and we appeared to have jumped straight through it.
Of course the police should have investigated an opportunistic complaint by a Scottish Nationalist MP quite legitimately on the political attack. But it should have been done and dusted in a few months. A complaint against Tories was over very rapidly without dawn raids, leak to the press and the torment that the witnesses went through.
One myth was nailed firmly by Yates. There has been a persistent story that Tony Blair refused to be interviewed ‘under caution.’ I asked Yates, ‘Did Tony Blair lay down any conditions under which he agreed to be interviewed.”. “No” was the unequivocal answer.
I accused Yates of being ‘cavalier’ in his treatment of witnesses. He said that he knew it was ‘uncomfortable’ for them. ‘Uncomfortable?’ They went through hell. Several wrote to us of their ‘prolonged deep distress’, and the ’continuing ordeal’ of being hung out to dry with constant press stories that were unfair and untrue.
As a committee we remain irritated that this investigation forced us to suspend our own. Had we continued we would have delivered practical proposal to reform the system.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) stonewalled many questions that appeared legitimate to us. ‘That’s an area I can’t discuss.’ This is a big area - the size of a sub-continent. But the Inspectors inner fury occasionally slipped out. When the CPS refused to say why the diary of one of the witnesses was ruled out as inadmissible, Yates chipped in. His answer gave more than a hint that he thought that the diary might be the ‘crown jewels’ that would have allowed a prosecution to go ahead.
As a Committee we will be pilloried by the press as apologists for a rotten system. None of the committee is. But without a witness who was prepared to say that a bribe had been offered in return for a peerage, a prosecution was never a serious possibility. In the only successful case brought in the 82 years since 1925, there was such a witness.
The investigation has been futile. It has delayed reforms and inflicted a year and a half on torment on honourable people who are bewildered because they believe they have done nothing wrong. Sound and fury signifying nothing.
Early day motion
Newport’s ecological footprint
That this House applauds the inspired work of Newport City Council and the people of Newport in achieving top place along with Plymouth for the lowest ecological footprint in the UK; is delighted Newportonians are best at using public transport, reducing energy waste at home and consuming more locally-produced food; recognises the courageous leadership of the City Council in establishing the best value, most efficient and ecologically sound waste management system in Wales; welcomes the foresight of the people of Newport in leading and cooperating with the city’s green agenda and looks forward to an intensification of Newport’s brilliant achievements.