Parliament pass for disgraced Huhne

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Published: Tuesday 3rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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Disgraced former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne has been handed a coveted pass granting him access to the parliamentary estate.

The politician dramatically quit as Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh two years ago after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice.

He had tried to cover up swapping speeding points with ex-wife Vicky Pryce, and was jailed for eight months.

But Mr Huhne is among a host of former members granted a Commons pass, according to a list disclosed to the Press Association under freedom of information rules.

Some 360 are able to use Westminster’s heavily subsidised bars and restaurants as well as other facilities – including ex-Tory minister Jonathan Aitken, who was jailed in 1999 for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

A number of the other passholders left the House at the 2010 general election in the wake of the expenses scandal.

Derek Conway had the Conservative whip withdrawn and then stepped down in Old Bexley and Sidcup after being heavily censured for putting his son on the public payroll without apparently having any duties.

Labour’s Ben Chapman declined to stand again in Wirral South after it emerged he had overclaimed on his mortgage by £15,000 – albeit with the permission of the House authorities.

Harry Cohen had his £65,000 resettlement grant withheld to make up for wrongly claimed accommodation expenses when he gave up the Leyton and Wanstead seat he held for Labour.

Ex-Labour MP Jim Devine, who was jailed for 16 months for making false expenses claims in 2011, was reported to have had a parliamentary pass that year. However, he does not feature on the list.

Labour backbencher John Mann said: “I do not think someone who has committed a criminal offence that has meant they went to prison should get privileged access to the Houses of Parliament.

“Let them queue with the general public if they want to get in.”

Mr Mann said the list “reinforces the impression that this is a gentlemen’s club”.

He also raised concerns about the potential for lobbying of serving MPs, as many of the former members have gone into public affairs or taken on consultant roles.

“Why should people who have been beaten in an election have special privileges over the general public?” he said.

“What these positions are generally used for is people making money through their parliamentary contacts.”

Published: Tuesday 3rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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