Last week, the Committee on Standards published its report concluding that I inadvertently breached the paid advocacy rule when I asked a topical question in the Chamber and subsequently emailed the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in October 2019. The Committee also concluded that I inadvertently breached the rule on declaration of interest when emailing the Secretary of State. I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologise for these breaches to the whole House. I do so sincerely, and I am very sorry for these breaches. I did not intend to do so, and now I understand the rules and how they should be adhered to.
I had received a £10,000 linked donation to my campaign fund from Aquind Ltd in September 2019. Mistakenly, I thought that by drawing attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests when asking a topical question about EU regulation that could affect Aquind, I was complying with the rules. I was mortified to realise that my topical question and follow-up email were not allowed under the paid advocacy rule. I realise that any breach of the paid advocacy rule is a very serious matter indeed. I am very sorry for this, and I can assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and the House that I never intended any breach of any of the rules. I was always endeavouring to actively protect my constituents’ interests and adhere to the rules of the House.
I would like to thank the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for her time in deliberating over this matter and concluding that this was an inadvertent breach of the rules. The Standards Committee stated it was confident that I did not intend to breach the rules on either paid advocacy or declaration of interest. I would also like to put on record to the whole House my sincere apologies for my conduct to the commissioner in the early stages of this investigation. My conduct was unacceptable. I do realise that, and I have also personally apologised to the commissioner and the registrar for my conduct. I have since acted promptly, and arranged by myself and attended a virtual briefing from the registrar on the codes and rules in order to improve my awareness of the rules. I endorse the Standards Committee’s wish to hold regular refresher seminars for all Members of Parliament, as I found this a very positive experience.
Once again, I apologise to the House and to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for any misunderstandings I may have inadvertently caused. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his personal statement.
Virtual participation in proceedings concluded (Order, 4 June).
Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Secretary Priti Patel, supported by the Prime Minister, Secretary Dominic Raab, Secretary Robert Buckland, Secretary Brandon Lewis, the Attorney General and James Brokenshire, presented a Bill to make provision for, and in connection with, the authorisation of criminal conduct in the course of, or otherwise in connection with, the conduct of covert human intelligence sources.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 188) with explanatory notes (Bill 188-EN).