Hewitt Hosted Dinner for BT before It Made Her a Director [Edition 2]

Article excerpt

FORMER Cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt faced questions today over her use of parliamentary hospitality as it emerged she hosted receptions for a firm that later made her a director.

The former health secretary and trade and industry secretary used the Commons to host a breakfast and a dinner with BT in late 2008 and early 2009.

Months later she began work as a nonexecutive director with the company, earning Pounds 59,000 on top of her MP's salary of Pounds 64,000. Ms Hewitt, who is also a paid adviser to Boots and a consultant to private health firm Cinven, hosted other events in the Commons.

In June 2008 she held a "Voice of Pharmacy Dinner"; last March she hosted a "Primary Care" dinner; and last July she held a "Healthcare in the Next Decade" lunch. Under Commons rules, no MP can use the Palace of Westminster for "direct or indirect" financial gain.

For the first time, the Commons has published a detailed list of every MP's "banqueting functions".

David Cameron hosted an event for ITV in 2004, a few months after stopping work as a consultant to Carlton TV. Cabinet minister John Denham booked a Commons room for a breakfast for insurance group AXA in 2006. The next month he declared a "one-off consultancy" to advise on pensions. Many events hosted by MPs involved charities and schools, but scores invited firms and lobbyists. …