Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Eighth Report

Annex A


Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

from Mr John Cryer MP

I am writing to you concerning the content of 26 speeches made by 18 Members of the House of Commons. Can I assure you that I am not in any way seeking to be vexatious in making these complaints? I am aware of the hearings of the Committee last week when the issue of vexatious and 'tit for tat' complaints was raised. I must stress that this is not my intention in submitting these complaints.

These complaints follow upon publication of the 17th Report of the Committee of Standards and Privileges. Their report followed upon your report and dealt with a complaint on a failure by a Member to declare relevant interests in four manufacturing companies during various debates between 1992 and 2000. The complainant in that case specified a number of debates related to "the economy in general and more specifically to manufacturing industry, small businesses and exchange rates". The complainant maintained that the Member's "contributions touched on issues of direct relevance to" the Member's "business interests and that" accordingly the Member "ought to have made an appropriate oral declaration".

The complainant then quoted the 1974 Resolution where it states that a Member is required to disclose:

"Any relevant pecuniary interest or benefit of whatever nature whether direct or indirect that he may have had, may have, or may be expected to have".

In your Report under paragraph 46 you stated that:

"The key point in any case is that the companies represent business interests held by" the Member "which are affected by economic conditions in general and arguably by government policy towards small business and the exchange rate in particular".

You went on to say later in paragraph 47:

"By contributing to a debate a Member seeks either to change the law or to influence the Government or the wider climate of opinion in the House or outside. The House and public are entitled to know of any financial interests which may have helped to shape his or her standpoint in the relevant proceeding".

In paragraph 48 you say:

"There was therefore in the spirit of the rules a presumption in favour of making a declaration in the circumstances" of the debates listed by the complainant.

In paragraph 50 you went on to list the following debates in which remarks were made on subjects which related to the Member's financial interests:

  • Help for manufacturing industry
  • Capital allowances for manufacturing industry
  • Incentives to invest in manufacturing industry
  • Late payment of bills to small and large businesses
  • Effects of high levels of sterling in manufacturing industry.

In paragraph 61 you upheld the complaint.

With this judgement in mind, I am submitting to you the 26 complaints referred to relating to speeches made by 18 Members. It seems to me that they are similar in nature and, in some cases, replicate the case you upheld in paragraph 61 of the Committee's 17th Report. Whilst they are submitted collectively, can they be treated as individual complaints?

I am providing them to you under single cover of correspondence for ease of reference by yourself. They are set out in the attached document.[21]

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

7 March 2001

List of Attachments

Attachment 1:  See Hansard, Westminster Hall, 5 July 2000, cols 43WH-46WH (Mr Clifton-Brown).

Attachment 2:  See Hansard, 7 December 2000, col 151 (Mr Clifton-Brown).

Attachment 3:  See Hansard, 8 December 2000, col 310 (Mr Clifton-Brown).

Attachment 4:  See Hansard, 24 November 1999, cols 674-675 (Mr Michael Fallon).

Attachment 5:  See Hansard, 23 March 2000, cols 1153-1159 (Mr Michael Fallon).

Attachment 5A:  See Hansard, 7 December 2000, col 216 (Mr Michael Fallon).

Attachment 6:  See Hansard, 21 March 2000, col 940 (Mr John Hayes).

Attachment 7:  See Hansard, 21 March 2000, cols 888-889 (Sir Michael Spicer).

Attachment 8:  See Hansard, 22 March 2000, cols 1074-1075 (Mr Robert Syms).

21   Not printed. Back

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