Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

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 … in his office after Prime Minister's Question Time"[1]. Since Mr Cameron became Leader of the Opposition in December 2005, he has held seven such lunches in his Parliamentary office[2].

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[3].

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[4]. 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[5], that the intertwining of Members' various capacities—as parliamentarians, party members, and private individuals—means 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

2   Ev.6, p18. Back

3   Appendix1, para. 42. Back

4   Page 21. Back

5   Appendix 1, para 36. Back

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