I thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to make this personal statement at this time. It is with profound personal regret and deep personal embarrassment that I have to make this statement.
In 2013, in the course of my first Parliament, I failed properly to register and declare two overseas visits. I had no ulterior motive for that genuine mistake. I do recognise how serious a mistake it was. As a Member of Parliament, I know that I have personal responsibility to seek to be above reproach. I acknowledge that registration of such matters and subsequent declarations must be adhered to diligently. I accept my total failure in that matter. I have given an unreserved apology to the House and to colleagues. I take the opportunity to do so again from my place here, and I do it without qualification. I say sorry and apologise for the failings that were identified in the Standards Committee report.
I am disappointed that I was not able to persuade members of the Committee of the weight of my arguments on some of the major matters of mitigation, especially on the issue of paid advocacy. However, I accept the report, but I do so regret its sanctions. I have apologised to the House and to colleagues and I understand that, subject to the decision of this House, I may, from September, be subject to a suspension lasting 30 days.
I take my duties as a Member of Parliament seriously. I believe that I conduct myself with colleagues with integrity and openness, which is why I have such remorse about the matter, as I believe it goes against the grain of who I am, especially how it is portrayed.
It is to my constituents, who have sent me here since 2010, that I make the profoundest of all apologies. They have honoured me with unwavering support to be their voice and I hope that they will continue to have that confidence in me in the future.
We all in this Chamber know that, in public life, if we make mistakes, they are amplified, and rightly so. That is the nature of the job that all of us do and all of us understand that. However, I believe in a politics and in politicians who can admit to human frailty, who can apologise, mean it, and move on, because that is what real life is all about. It is often said that it is how we respond to these challenges in our lives that defines who and what we are, and defines our character and demonstrates to us where the true source of our personal strength rests. The 8th-century prophet Isaiah said, “You were angry with me, that anger has turned away, you comfort me.” I hope to learn that lesson.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has said and the sincerity with which I feel sure the whole House will accept that he has said it. The matter rests there. Thank you.