Mr Speaker, you will be aware that the Committee on Standards last week published a report following an inquiry into the use of parliamentary stationery for the purpose of a communication with my constituents. This mail-out was sent to some of my constituents in April 2019. I accept that this constituency mail-out did not conform with the rules set by the House. I also accept that it was inappropriate for me to have insisted on a reference of the case to the Committee when I had already acknowledged that I was in breach of the rules and when I had been informed by the commissioner that the Committee was not the body with which to raise a possible change to the rules.
The Commissioner for Standards herself has recognised that this breach was at the
“less serious end of the spectrum”.
As I expressed in my representations throughout the inquiry, I believe the rules in question to be in need of updating, to reflect the fact that combining different communications into one single letter can save money and staff time.
None the less, I am sorry for the length of time that this investigation has taken and accept that at the time, I acted outside the current House rules. I am therefore today taking the earliest opportunity to offer the House my apology both for the initial breach of the rules and for insisting on an unnecessary reference to the Committee, thereby extending the length of the inquiry. I undertake to reimburse the House for the relevant costs of my mailing, which the commissioner has assessed at £4,865.55.