Skip to main content

Personal Statement

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal statement.

I am grateful to the Committee on Standards and Privileges for its consideration of the detailed report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards following his seven-month investigation. I want to apologise unreservedly to the House, as I have to my constituents, for wrongly claiming for the cost of films alongside my broadband and cable connection. This claim should never have been made and, as the Committee notes, I paid back the claim in full as soon as it was brought to my attention.

On the issue of second home allowances, the commissioner and the Committee recognise that my London home is indeed a home. They dismiss the most usually repeated newspaper descriptions of my living arrangements, and I welcome this judgment. As the report makes clear, I sought and received written advice from the parliamentary authorities that supported my main home designation and, indeed, I spent more nights in London than in Redditch for three of the four years in question. I have never flipped my designation and I own only one home.

The Committee recognises that there is no evidence that the taxpayer would be any worse or any better off as a result of my having made a different decision. However, in retrospect the commissioner concludes that I should have used my discretion to change my main home designation. I accept the Committee’s conclusions and I therefore apologise to the House. I want to say sorry, too, to my constituents. They are my No. 1 priority, and for too long this investigation has overshadowed the work that I do for them.