Select Committee on Standards and Privileges First Report


Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr I M Davis

I am afraid that I do not know whether you accept comments from members of the general public. I can only trust that you do.

My concern relates to the reports in the press—and in the Daily Telegraph in particular—that Members of Parliament had placed bets on the outcome of the recent election of the Speaker.

Under the rules governing their respective games neither footballers nor cricketers are allowed to bet on matches. Presumably this is to avoid match fixing. An extension of this argument would seem to lead to the conclusion that Members of Parliament who will be involved in voting on a specific issue should not be allowed to bet on the outcome of that vote.

The very worst case scenario is that a number of them will collude in order to profit from their bets. The very best that can be said is that, because they have risked money on a certain result being produced, they will be totally deaf to any debate or argument that might run counter to this. Either way democracy is certainly not being served.

If it is proved that such betting has taken place then there may be a justification for reviewing the result of this vote. In any case, the acceptability of such betting within the context of Parliamentary Standards does seem to require some consideration.

I can only say that, in my opinion as a member of the voting public, it is thoroughly bad practice and this incident has damaged the reputation of the House of Commons.

27 October 2000

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