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Bill Proposed to Ban MPs from Taking Oil and Gas Funding, as Politicians Receive Thousands from Polluting Firms

Richard Burgon MP wants MPs to stop taking perks from polluting firms

Photo: Imageplotter / Alamy

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A Labour MP is presenting a Bill in the House of Commons to ban MPs from receiving funding or any other benefit from oil and gas companies.

The Private Members Bill from Labour left-winger Richard Burgon would prevent MPs from taking any second jobs with or receiving donations, gifts, hospitality or benefits-in-kind from any company that makes more than 50% of its annual revenue from oil or gas.

Oil and gas firms are known to lavish MPs with gifts, spending hundreds of millions of pounds a year more widely – lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change. 

The Tory Party received £3.5m from donors with fossil fuel, polluter and climate denial links in 2022 according to an analysis of Electoral Commission records by investigative outlet DeSmog

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak received £141,000 from individuals and companies with financial ties to the oil and gas sectors in 2022, with many of the payments were for his Ready4Rishi leadership bid. 

And the single biggest donation to Liz Truss’ successful campaign for the Conservative leadership came from the wife of a former BP Executive. 

Priti Patel MP, the former home secretary, also reportedly received £140,000 in donations from donors with significant fossil fuel and offshore energy interests in 2022, according to Greenpeace’s Unearthed outlet. Unrelatedly, Patel pushed through the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act which targeted groups like Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil. 

Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi banked £1.3million from the oil company Gulf Keystone while working as an MP. And former energy minister John Hayes has received around £172,000 from oil and petrochemical trader BB Energy Trading since December 2019, according to Sky’s Westminster Accounts investigation. 

There is also a perceived problem with a “revolving door” – ministers going on to work for polluting interests they previously regulated. Former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd later became Chair of the International Advisory Group for Equinor, the oil and gas company in charge of the controversial Rosebank North Sea oil field

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In the last month alone, BP gave MPs including Tories Mike Freer and Stephen Crabb tickets with hospitality to watch Wimbledon, worth £400 each. Meanwhile Conservative MP Sir John Hayes is a paid Strategic Adviser to BB Energy Trading Ltd, an international energy company – being paid approximately £50,000 for 80-90 hours a work annually. 

Another Conservative MP, Mark Pritchard, is listed as “Lead Marketing Counsel” and Vice Chairman of the Advisory Board at Linden Energy Holdings, for which he receives £4,900 per month on top of his £87,000 MP salary.

Documents obtained by the Observer last year suggested the Texas-based firm – founded by a former lobbyist for George Bush – pushed for the increased use of fossil fuels while downplaying the role of carbon emissions in the climate crisis. He is also Marketing Counsel to Focal Point Energy LLC, an energy investment and development firm, receiving another £3,900 per month for 12 hours work. 

In addition to banning gifts and donations from oil and gas firms, Burgon’s Bill would force the Government to end investments by the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund in any oil and gas companies.

Richard Burgon, the Labour MP for Leeds East said: “The same oil and gas giants behind record energy bills have brought us to the brink of a climate catastrophe. If we are to have a fighting chance of preventing this, we need to rapidly cut fossil fuel use.

“That means breaking the huge influence that oil and gas companies have long had over our politics which – just like with tobacco companies in the past – is causing huge damage to public health.

“My Bill will help build a firewall between our political decision-makers and the oil and gas corporations that have knowingly driven a climate crisis.”

The United Nations states that fossil fuels are by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions. Fossil fuel air pollution also accounts for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide according to a 2021 Harvard University study. 

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned in June that countries must phase out fossil fuels to avert climate “catastrophe” 

However, the Conservative Government has launched a new oil and gas licensing round that is expected to lead to over 100 new licences for exploration. 

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