‘You are either utterly disingenuous… or turning a blind eye’ – Ingham responds to Parliament statement on passes scandal

A lobbying industry leader has described parliamentary authorities as either “complacent, naïve or utterly disingenuous” amid revelations that parliamentarians are providing inappropriate access to various interest groups.

Francis Ingham says authorities are turning a blind eye to the parliamentary passes scandal
Francis Ingham says authorities are turning a blind eye to the parliamentary passes scandal

PRCA director-general Francis Ingham has urged the authorities to stop turning a blind eye to the issue after the industry body’s own analysis found 210 partliamentary passes had been handed to charities, think tanks, business groups, trade unions and consultants.

In response, spokespeople from the House of Commons and House of Lords told PRWeek that processes are in place to “ensure security pass applications can only be made by those with approved requirements”.

Passes are only supposed to be provided to people who support MPs and peers in carrying out their duties, for example those carrying out research and secretarial tasks, and that they are “prohibited from using their access to the parliamentary email network or to the parliamentary estate to further the interests of an outside person or body from whom they have received or expect to receive payment or other incentive or reward”.

The PRCA’s analysis of parliamentary registers found dozens of passes had been handed out to lobbyists, think tanks, business groups, campaigners, charities and others with vested interests.

“The response of the parliamentary authorities is either astonishingly complacent and naïve, or else utterly disingenuous. Surely the expenses scandal should have taught them that they need to check up on the claims made by parliamentarians?” Ingham said in a strongly-worded statement to PRWeek. 

“Even the most cursory glance at the job titles of the people handed parliamentary passes would make it evident that they hold them without any possible justification. You would have to be the most gullible person in the world to believe that CEOs, directors and partners of charities, trade unions, think tanks and law firms are actually working as researchers and secretaries to peers and MPs.

“Unquestionably, the parliamentary authorities know the reality of this situation, and have been turning a blind eye to it for decades. To put it very simply, it is time for this indifference to the facts to end.”

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