June 2 (Bloomberg) -- Britain’s opposition Labour Party suspended two of its lawmakers in the House of Lords over allegations they offered to carry out parliamentary work in return for cash.
John Cunningham and Brian Mackenzie “have been suspended from the Labour Party pending further investigation,” the party said today in a statement. “The Labour Party expects the highest standards of its representatives and believes they have a duty to be transparent and accountable at all times.”
The two men, along with John Laird, who represents the Ulster Unionist Party in the upper chamber of Parliament, were named today in an undercover probe carried out by the Sunday Times newspaper into lobbying on behalf of private companies. Laird resigned the Ulster Unionist whip, meaning he’s no longer part of the party in Parliament. All three deny breaching parliamentary rules.
The controversy comes two days after Patrick Mercer, a lawmaker in Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, resigned from the party after a BBC investigation into lobbying. Mercer said he won’t seek to retain his seat in the next general election, in 2015, and that he’s resigned the Tory whip.
Speaking earlier today, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude expressed confidence the government will bring in a statutory register of lobbyists before the election.
Douglas Alexander, who speaks for Labour on foreign affairs, called for urgent cross-party talks on the issue of lobbying.
“I think any right-thinking person reading the newspapers this morning wouldn’t just feel sad, they would feel angry,” he told BBC Television.
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