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Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Eighth Report


Annex E

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

from Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP

RE: MEMBERS DECLARATION OF INTEREST

You wrote to me on the 22nd March 2001, following John Cryer's letter of complaint dated 7th March regarding twenty six speeches, including three of my own, made by eighteen members of parliament. I discussed these yesterday with David Doig, the Registrar and I would now like to record my comments.

The complaints relate to my speeches on the Euro on the 5th July 2000, Hansard Column No: 44 WH; my intervention in the Debate on the Address on the 7th December 2000, Hansard Column No. 151 and a speech on Education and Industry on the 8th December 2000, Hansard Column No. 310.

You kindly asked for my response on these three matters and I will deal with them in that order:

a.  Three of my declared interests namely forestry, agriculture and farming are thought to have a conflict of interest with the entire speech that I made on the Euro in Westminster Hall on the 5th July 2000, in which I did not mention any of these interests.

Whilst it could be perceived by some that agriculture might have something to gain by the United Kingdom joining the European Monetary System (EMS), as far as I am aware, this is not the official view of the major farming organisations and indeed, there is no unanimity within the industry that this is so. In any case my speech was critical of the Government's position on the United Kingdom joining the EMS.

However, may I suggest that if the requirement to declare an interest is interpreted so widely as to link an interest in agriculture with issues relating to the Euro, then there will be a great many Members who will inadvertently transgress the rules and consequently the whole system could be brought into disrepute.

b.  On the 7th December 2000 during a Debate on the Address I intervened on our Shadow Health Secretary regarding tobacco. The substance of the intervention called for better enforcement of action against cigarette smuggling. Bearing in mind that this was a brief intervention, in the heat of the debate I did not consider that declaration would be appropriate. May I also add that the hospitality that I received from the Tobacco Manufacturers Association took place on the 13th October 1999. Therefore well over a year had elapsed before my intervention. I wonder therefore whether a declaration is required under the rules?

May I again say, with humility, that if interventions are to be so carefully scrutinised in future, that the whole House should be made more widely aware of this fact and the Speaker will need to take this into account in calling for short interventions.

c.  On the 8th December I made an entire speech on Education and Industry. This was a wide-ranging speech raising problems in my Constituency relating to health, education and police. There was one short paragraph requesting help for farmers. I have a particular problem in that I represent a very large rural constituency in which (mainly stock) farming is the second largest industry. I have declared my farming interests in Norfolk. However I discussed with the Registrar yesterday that greater clarity in potential conflict of interests could be provided by redefining my interest to include the word arable.

However, I fully accept that I should have declared this interest before making my statement and I apologise to you and the Committee for not doing so.

I have enclosed as an appendix the references to ten speeches that I have made where I have declared an interest. This illustrates that it is my normal practice to make a declaration when it is necessary to do so.

I hope that this full explanation has answered all the complaints against me, if you require any further information I would be happy to supply it.

4 April 2001

  Attachment

Commons Hansard (27 Mar 1998)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 27 Mar 1998 (pt 12)

New clause 2

Mr Clifton-Brown: First, I declare an interest: I am a farmer and user of licensed pesticides. It is a good idea to place on the record the fact that pesticide use in the United Kingdom is probably ...

Speaker: Mr Clifton-Brown

Commons Hansard (28 Apr 1999)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 Apr 1999 (pt 46)

Clause 99

Mr Clifton-Brown: Many points have already been made, so, in view of the hour, I shall keep my remarks brief. Before I begin, I should declare that I have property interests that could possibly be ...

Speaker: Mr Clifton-Brown

Commons Hansard (28 Jul 1998)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 Jul 1998 (pt 31)

Clause 13

Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold): Perhaps the Minister would clarify one point. I declare an interest, as recorded in the Register of Members' Interests, in agriculture. It is increasingly likely ...

Speaker: Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Commons Hansard (10 Feb 2000)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 10 Feb 2000 (pt 1)

Badgers and Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr Clifton-Brown: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I inadvertently forgot to declare my interest as a farmer. It is in the Register of Members' Interests, although I should stress that I own ...

Speaker: Mr Clifton-Brown

Commons Hansard (30 Jun 1998)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 30 Jun 1998 (pt 27)

New clause 8

Mr Clifton-Brown: This measure is expected to yield ? million in 1998-99, ? million in 1999-2000 and more than ? million in 2001. This is no longer a minor tax: it is a severe tax. ...

Speaker: Mr Clifton-Brown

Commons Hansard (26 Jan 2001)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 26 Jan 2001 (pt 16)

Rural and Urban White Papers

Mr Clifton-Brown: My hon. Friend has made her point. The hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr Bennett) and I were on the Environment Sub-Committee even before he became Chairman, and for some ...

Commons Hansard (28 Jun 2000)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 June (pt 31)

Clause 5

Mr Clifton-Brown: My right hon. and learned Friend makes an interesting point, and if time permits, I may get on to the subject of the negative and affirmative resolution procedures. Let me return ...

Speaker: Mr Clifton-Brown

Commons Hansard (6 Feb 1995)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 6 Feb 1995

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cirencester and Tewkesbury): First, I declare my interest. I am connected with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Country Landowners Association, the National ...

Speaker: Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown

Commons Hansard (7 May 1993)

House of Commons Hansard Debates for 7 May 1993

PRIME MINISTER

Mr Clifton-Brown: I am in error. I should have declared the fact that I am a farmer. Over the past 20 years, I have had a net gain on my farm of more than one mile of hedgerows. I would not like anyone ...

Speaker: Mr Clifton-Brown

March 1997: Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cirencester and Tewkesbury): Madam Deputy Speaker, I am grateful to catch your eye in this short debate; I will be extremely brief, as I know that my rt hon. Friend the Leader of the House wishes to get on to other business. Before I say anything further, I declare my interest as a farmer and as a member of the National Farmers Union, the Country Landowners Association and other associated countryside bodies.


 
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