Hanningfield defends staff Lords passes

THE Conservative leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, has defended the fact that three of its senior officers appear on his list of Parliamentary staff at the House of Lords.

Roddy Ashworth

THE Conservative leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, has defended the fact that three of its senior officers appear on his list of Parliamentary staff at the House of Lords.

Brandon Hallam, head of the policy and international unit at ECC, Giles Roca, head of media and marketing and Alexander Corbett, head of the leader's office, all appear on the current Register of Interests of Lords Members' Staff in Westminster.

Labour group leader at the council, Paul Kirkman, queried why the three - whose jobs are classed as “politically restricted” - should be on the list, and particularly the head of media and marketing, whose role he claimed should be solely based in Essex.


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“It is not right for a senior council officer to be listed as staff to a Tory Peer,” he said.

“The head of media and marketing is supposed to be here in Essex, telling the people of Essex what the council is up to, not hobnobbing in the House of Lords with Lord Hanningfield or anyone else. That is not part of the job.”

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Mr Kirkman added that he would be raising the matter with the ECC chief executive Joanna Killian.

But yesterday Lord Hanningfield said that none of the three officers were paid by either him or the House of Lords and they were only ever there when on ECC business.

And he stressed that the reason they were listed in the register was in order for them to obtain passes to be able to enter the Houses of Parliament. Without these, he said, “they wouldn't even be able to go to the loo” at Westminster.

He also denied any possible politicisation of their roles at ECC as a result of their appearance on the list and said they were some of “the most professional and effective local government officers in the country”.

Lord Hanningfield said Mr Roca first appeared on the list when he was ECC's public affairs manager and his job was partly based at the House of Lords, requiring him to have a pass.

“I have debated about taking it away He's got a different job now, in Essex. I don't suppose Giles has been in the Lords more than once or twice in the last six months. I don't think he comes here at all now.

“Brandon comes at times when there are policy issues relating to the county council - with Colchester schools, for example, if I am talking to Bob Russell he will come to the meeting.

“The A12 enquiry is another example - if Brandon hadn't had a pass he wouldn't have been able to meet Lord Whitty without me being there to cart people around.

“And Alex, as the head of the leader's office, is the one who looks after my day to day interests as leader of the council.”

He added: “None of them does any kind of political work for me or support me as a member of the House of Lords.

“It really is so that when they are here they can go to the loo or get some food in the Lords' bar downstairs.”

Essex County councillor Paul White was ennobled as Baron Hanningfield of Chelmsford in 1998 after being nominated by former Tory leader William Hague.

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