Hasan Suroor

LONDON: In an echo of the last days of John Major's Tory Government in the late 1990s, several high-profile Labour MPs, including former Cabinet Ministers, were on Monday facing a parliamentary investigation into allegations of sleaze after they were secretly filmed telling an undercover reporter that they could use their contacts in the government to influence decisions for a fee.

In a footage shown on Channel 4, Stephen Byers, former Transport Secretary, is seen describing himself as a “sort of cab for hire'' and boasting that in the past he had secured deals for a train company and a leading supermarket chain by exploiting his connections with concerned Ministers. He said his fee for lobbying was £3,000 to £5,000 a day.

Two other former Cabinet ministers — Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt — were also filmed offering to lobby government for private companies. Mr. Hoon, a former Defence Secretary, reportedly said he wanted to use his government connections in a way that “frankly makes money''.