Conduct of Mr David Cameron|
1. We have considered a memorandum by the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards relating to a complaint against the
Rt. Hon. David Cameron, Member for Witney, by Mr Norman Baker,
Member for Lewes. The Commissioner's memorandum is reproduced
at Appendix 1.
2. The essence of Mr Baker's complaint is that Mr
Cameron's office in the House, provided at public expense, was
being used as part of a party fund-raising strategy. A leaflet
distributed at a meeting of the Conservative City Circle had described
details of a number of party fund-raising clubs. The most senior
of these, the Leader's Group, had as its stated aim "to support
David Cameron, providing sustainable and renewable income for
the Party". One of the advertised benefits of membership
was "the opportunity to meet with the Leader
office after Prime Minister's Question Time".
Since Mr Cameron became Leader of the Opposition in December 2005,
he has held seven such lunches in his Parliamentary office.
3. The Commissioner has recommended that Mr Baker's
complaint be upheld. While the Commissioner sees no reason in
principle why Mr Cameron cannot meet, in his office or elsewhere
on the Parliamentary Estate, those who donate to his party, he
is of the opinion that what neither he nor his party (nor indeed
any other Member or party) can properly do is employ their Parliamentary
office as part of a party fund-raising stratagem. In the Commissioner's
view, this is, on the facts, precisely what happened in this case.
4. In accordance with our normal practice, we have
shown Mr Cameron a copy of the Commissioner's memorandum. His
comments are reproduced at Appendix 2.
Mr Cameron accepts the Commissioner's recommendation; offers his
unreserved apologies for inadvertently contravening the Code of
Conduct in respect of the use of his Parliamentary offices; and
offers an assurance that this will not happen again. He also confirms
that he will hold no more such lunches for members of the Leader's
Group in his Parliamentary office, nor will his office be mentioned
in any promotional literature.
5. Mr Cameron fairly makes the point, which the Commissioner
accepts, that the intertwining
of Members' various capacitiesas parliamentarians, party
members, and private individualsmeans that it would be
impracticable to require that only business which is exclusively
parliamentary in nature can ever be conducted by Members from
their offices on the Parliamentary Estate. However, it is important
that offices and facilities provided at public expense to help
Members carry out their Parliamentary duties effectively are not
also used for unrelated party purposes. We consider that party
fund-raising falls fairly and squarely into precisely this category.
The promotional material that lies at the heart of this complaint
explicitly linked the opportunity to meet Mr Cameron in his office
after Prime Minister's Questions with membership of a fund-raising
club, and such opportunities have arisen regularly for Leader's
Group members over the last year or so.
6. Mr Cameron was in our view ill-advised to link
directly, in promoting the Leader's Group, the issues of access
to his office and party fund-raising. We agree with the Commissioner
that Mr Baker's complaint should be upheld.
7. We are grateful to Mr Cameron for his speedy and
full acceptance of the Commissioner's recommendation, and for
his apology to the House. We consider that this, and the undertakings
he has given in his written evidence to us that he will ensure
there is no repetition, adequately dispose of this matter. We
nonetheless take this opportunity to remind all Members of the
importance of the fundamental principle that Parliamentary facilities,
services, expenses and allowances are provided for Parliamentary
purposes, and that it is incumbent on them to check regularly
the relevant rules.
1 Appendix 1, para. 14. Back
Ev.6, p18. Back
Appendix1, para. 42. Back
Page 21. Back
Appendix 1, para 36. Back