Tory MPs are sitting on controversial Westminster pressure groups while also being paid thousands of pounds from ‘vested interests’ in the same industries, Daily Mail analysis has found.

Backbenchers are at risk of being accused of lobbying through the backdoor.

These individuals are often paid to act as advisors for major companies and also run informal parliamentary bodies that support the same sector.

It has heightened concerns that All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are the next controversy in the wake of the Owen Paterson sleaze lobbying saga and Sir Geoffrey Cox’s £5.5million second career as a barrister. Nearly 750 APPGs are dedicated to various industries, sports and countries. They try to convince ministers to attend the events to then support their cause.

It has heightened concerns that All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are the next controversy in the wake of the Owen Paterson sleaze lobbying saga and Sir Geoffrey Cox’s (pictured) £5.5million second career as a barrister

It has heightened concerns that All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are the next controversy in the wake of the Owen Paterson sleaze lobbying saga and Sir Geoffrey Cox’s (pictured) £5.5million second career as a barrister

Some MPs or peers are permitted to sit on many of them. They can also host meetings at Westminster and prepare official reports that will influence government policy.

The groups do not have a formal status, and they can be funded either by trade organizations or private individuals.

The Committee on Standards is already investigating APPGs and has been sent evidence by campaigners that some are a ‘front’ for lobbyists to gain access to ministers while others are being used by corrupt regimes to give a false veneer of legitimacy.

Mail now discovers that at most ten Conservative MPs serving as chairmen and vice-chairmen for APPGs also receive free or reduced airfares from the same organisations.

Among them is a former Cabinet minister who is paid £15,000 a year for advising a private hire business and who joined an APPG for the taxi industry just months afterwards.

Now the Mail has found that at least ten Conservative MPs who are chairmen or vice-chairmen of APPGs are also being paid or receiving free trips and tickets from organisations within the same sectors (file image)

Mail now reports that at least ten Conservative MPs, who are vice-chairmen or chairmen of APPGs, are being paid by or getting free tickets or trips from the same sector (file image).

Among them is a former Cabinet minister who is paid £15,000 a year for advising a private hire business and who joined an APPG for the taxi industry just months afterwards (file image)

Among them is a former Cabinet minister who is paid £15,000 a year for advising a private hire business and who joined an APPG for the taxi industry just months afterwards (file image)

One MP who is chairman of the Packaging Manufacturing Industry APPG also receives £30,000-a-year to be chairman of the Food Service Packaging Association.

A paid advisor to the Betting and Gaming Council, another chairman is the Racing and Bloodstock APPG.

Although they don’t break any rules campaigners argue that with the increasing crackdown on outside earnings, MPs shouldn’t be allowed to continue sitting on interest groups as they may also receive payments from the same industries. Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the committee on standards in public life from 2003 to 2007, said: ‘This just shows that all-party parliamentary groups are very often totally controlled and dominated by interested parties outside of parliament rather than MPs themselves.

‘I think it’s a very unregulated area that needs tightening up.’

On the involvement of industry bodies who regularly finance APPGs and act as their point of contact, he added: ‘I don’t think it’s right.

‘They are not then genuinely cross-parliamentary groups, they are add-ons to industry associations where they can seek to influence public policy because that’s the only reason they are providing money – to seek to control their interests.’

Director of reform group Unlock Democracy Tom Brake said: ‘I struggle to understand how MPs who are prominent on APPGs representing sectors of industry are not lobbying on behalf of those sectors.

‘Their whole purpose is to promote a particular cause or sector and that happens by writing to government ministers, inviting them to speak at meetings.’

He said it was a ‘murky area’ and had drawn it to the attention of the Commons Committee on Standards, which is carrying out an inquiry into APPGs.

In written evidence to the committee inquiry into APPGs, campaign group Transparency International said: ‘It is possible organisations are using this privileged access to MPs and the ability to book rooms within the parliamentary estate, as a way of impressing clients and at the very least appearing to influence the views of parliamentarians.’

In written evidence Lord Evans, the former MI5 chief and current chairman of the committee on standards in public life, wrote: ‘APPGs come with the badge of parliamentary branding, and it is therefore likely that members of the public would assume that APPGs’ activity is led solely by their MPs.

‘However, APPGs are often funded and staffed by external organisations, leaving them vulnerable to the accusation that they provide official “cover” for private sector interests.’

He added: ‘Involvement in APPGs must not operate on a “pay to play” basis, where those who provide financial and/or secretarial support gain privileged access at the exclusion of others.’

From racing to taxis, who’s hitched a ride


Alun Cairns

MP for Glamorgan

Vice-chairman for the APPG taxis

Former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairn

Alun Cairn was the former Welsh Secretary

Alun Cairns, a former Welsh Secretary joined the APPG for taxi industry after he was appointed as an advisor to a large minicab company.

The ex -Welsh Secretary is paid £15,000 a year for providing ‘strategic advice’ to Veezu, Britain’s biggest private hire business, under a deal agreed in September last year.

He was told by the watchdog that monitors the revolving door between politics and government – the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments – that he must ‘not become personally involved in lobbying the UK or Welsh Government on behalf of Veezu’.

But in January this year he became a Vice-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis, whose purpose is to ‘promote the interests of the taxi trade in parliament’. The APPG’s secretariat received £40,000 this year in funding from taxi firms and the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association union for cabbies.

Minutes of its Annual General Meeting, at which Mr Cairns was one of ten MPs elected as an officer of the group, state ‘it was firmly agreed among all attendees that a strong push for the long-overdue taxis legislation would be a priority’.

They also agreed to ‘continue pressuring government to provide urgent financial support for taxi drivers’.

Cairns declined to comment on our request.

A spokesman for the APPG said: ‘Mr Cairns was elected as a Vice Chair of the APPG on Taxis at the AGM on Thursday, January 26.

‘The minutes record that, “Mr Cairns declared his financial interest in a private hire transport and technology platform, Veezu Holdings Ltd, and sought clarification from the Registrar of Members’ Financial Interests before confirming that he can accept nomination as a Vice Chair”.’

In a separate development, it was reported yesterday that Mr Cairns took a £15,000-a-year job at a diagnostics company called BBI Group a few weeks before it was part of a consortium that secured a £75million government contract for lateral flow tests.


Laurence Robertson

Tewkesbury MP

‘Racing and bloodstock’ APPG chairman; vice-chairman of golf APPG; member of ‘horse’ APPG

Laurence Robertson MP for Tewkesbury

Laurence Robertson, MP for Tewkesbury

As well as his horse racing and golf APPG commitments, Mr Robertson is paid £2,000 a month for an ‘expected’ ten hours’ work to act as a parliamentary advisor to the Betting and Gaming Council, which represents betting shops and online gambling.

Additionally, Ascot has received freebies worth thousands of pounds from racing and betting companies that have enabled him to attend matches at Wembley Stadium and Ascot.

Robertson is a member of Cheltenham racecourse’s electoral district. In Parliament, Robertson has warned ministers against introducing tougher gambling laws. Last night he said his chairmanship of the Westminster racing group and his role with BGC were ‘perfectly within the rules.’


Crispin Blunt

Reigate MP

Chair of the APPG for drug policy reform

Crispin Blunt MP for Reigate

Crispin Blunt MP in Reigate

Since January 2019, he is the Chairman of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group. Additionally, he was the Director of Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group Ltd. since September 2018.

The group paid his lodging when he visited Jamaica for a marijuana conference and France for a study on the medical cannabis industry.

Last night he said: ‘I am acutely conscious that I must earn nothing from my engagement with drug policy reform as this is an issue of such societal, economic and public health importance that there must be no suggestion that my contributions to public debate have any motivation other than the wider public good that has been so ill-served by our policy over the last 60 years.’


Nick Fletcher

Don Valley MP

Vice-chairman, APPG on Electric Vehicles

Nick Fletcher is also a director of electric vehicle charging point firm Analogue Electrics and receives a company car, phone and health insurance worth £800 a month.

He also has shares in the firm and they gave him a £2,000 donation last year.

A request for comment was not answered by Mr Fletcher.


Peter Bone

Wellingborough Member of Parliament

Chair of the APPG for American Football

Peter Bone received over a dozen tickets to American Football games from the NFL, Jacksonville Jaguars and William Hill betting companies. His office was damaged in the wake of Owen Patterson. He was also found guilty of violating minor APPG transparency rules last year by the Standards Commission.

Requests for comments were not answered by Mr Bone.


Mark Garnier

Wyre Forest: MP

Vice-Chairman at the APPG for Space

Mark Garnier MP for Wyre Forest

Mark Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest

Works ten hours a month for Laser Light Communications, a startup satellite company, and ten hours a month for the Shetland Space Centre, receiving a total of £90,000 a year.

Yesterday night, he stated that he followed all the rules and declared his interests during meetings.

‘I think it’s really important that if an APPG produces a report it’s absolutely crucial that all interests should be declared,’ he added.


Andrew Percy

Goole MP

Since the beginning of last year, Deputy Chairman of APPG Canada

Andrew Percy MP for Goole

Andrew Percy MP for Goole

Joined the advisory board for Toronto-based Cumberland Strategies in 2019 to provide ‘strategic advice. He received £710 for eight hours’ work a month.

In April moved to the board of Canadian clean energy firm Iogen Corporation and now gets £3,000 a month for six hours’ work.

He said: ‘There is no connection between my love of Canada and working there and anything I have done with Iogen or Cumberland. There is no link at all.’


Andrew Rosindell

MP for Romford

Sits in 43 APPGs, ranging from Armenian to Zoos

Andrew Rosindell MP for Romford

Andrew Rosindell MP for Romford

Andrew Rosindell has been able to claim more than 30 travel grants for overseas countries or territories over the past decade. The trips were funded by their governments and political parties.

Just last month, as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) for San Marino, he had a week-long trip to the tiny state worth £4,438 paid for by its consulate, and was given an honour for his ‘valuable support’.

A spokesman for Mr Rosindell said he had never had a second job and added: ‘Andrew takes regular trips abroad to ensure he remains fully informed about the many international issues he cares about, particularly relevant given his position on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

‘He declares these trips in the proper way as he did in the recent trip to San Marino.’ 


Philip Davies, MP for Shipley

Vice-chairman, racing and bloodstock APPG. Vice-chairman Formula One APPG. Vice-chairman, bingo APPG.

Over the summer he got a ticket to Ascot from horse breeders Normandie Stud, worth £750, a ticket to Wembley worth £1,537 by online gambling company Gamesys Group and hospitality at Wimbledon worth £1,100 by sports betting company Entain Holdings.

Pictured with Esther McVey and Mr Davies. He did not reply to our request for comment.


Mark Pawsey

Rugby MP

Chair of the Packaging Manufacturing Industry APPG. This industry group is responsible for its management.

MP Mark Pawsey

MP Mark Pawsey

Mr Pawsey is paid £30,000 a year as chairman of the Foodservice Packaging Association, a role he took up last year. He has spoken up in the Commons on behalf of the industry to raise concerns about the impact of new environmental laws, with his interventions labelled ‘deeply concerning’ by Greenpeace.

Pictured: Mr Pawsey. He stated in a debate last summer that single-use plastic bags should not be prohibited. In January of this year, however, he claimed that producers should bear greater responsibility for the disposal and recycling costs. His response to inquiries for comments was not received.