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Out of the Party: But would Patrick Mercer have resigned if a major TV documentary wasn't about to reveal allegations against him?

Out of the Party: But would Patrick Mercer have resigned if a major TV documentary wasn’t about to reveal allegations against him?

Tory MP Patrick Mercer has resigned from the Parliamentary Conservative Party to “save … embarrassment” over a BBC Panorama programme alleging he had broken lobbying rules.

Mercer, MP for Newark, will remain as an Independent but will not stand for re-election in 2015.

The coalition government is committed to setting up a statutory register of lobbyists – companies who influence government policy, often by paying current and former MPs for advice and guidance. But, you know, it’s one of those matters that just doesn’t seem to make it onto the legislative programme – like proper bank regulation and measures to make tax avoidance impossible.

Many of you know that I have a strong opinion about this. That is why I started an e-petition to ban MPs from voting on matters in which they have a financial interest. Lobbying would definitely be affected by such a ban.

The text runs as follows:

We call on HM Government for new legislation to ensure that:

i. No member of Parliament may speak or vote in a debate on legislation which could financially benefit any commercial operation in which they have a financial interest; and

ii. No member of Parliament may speak or vote in a debate on legislation which could financially benefit any commercial operation which has made – or currently makes – donations to themselves personally or their political party.

We believe this is necessary to prevent corruption. It is also in accord with the spirit of political reform supported by the government.

I’m not saying Mr Mercer has been engaging in unacceptable behaviour; we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

But I am saying that, if the ban I propose had been in place, he would have known not to do it.

Please visit the e-petition’s page and sign, if you haven’t already done so – and, please, tell all your friends.

In fact, tell all your enemies as well – it’ll be in their best interests too!