[Please note that this document contains redactions, authorised by the Committee, of material relating to confidential personal information.]
Dear Mr Bryant,
I had hoped to appear before your Committee in person, so please accept my apologies for my absence. My wife is due to give birth shortly to our first child, so understandably I am remaining in my constituency and do not wish to jeopardise either my health or that of my wife as this particular time.
[Sensitive personal data redacted].
At the outset I would like to express my personal regret, with regard to my current situation comprised in the report now before the Committee. I accept the Commissioner’s findings that I inadvertently breached the rules.
I can assure you and the Committee, that I never intended any breach any of the rules and I was always endeavouring to actively protect my constituents’ interests and adhere to the rules of the house. The issue involved raising a question about a national infrastructure programme being affected by Brexit with serious ramifications with regard to the power industry in my constituency. As you may know, my constituency accounts for between 10–15 % of all power in the UK.
Mistakenly, I thought that by orally declaring my interest of a linked donation in the chamber before when asking the question, I was complying with the rules as in 19c. The rules are open to interpretation and can be very ambiguous and complicated. I now realise that by declaring my interest in the chamber, was not sufficient to be fully compliant. I also mistakenly believed that approaching the Secretary of State as a follow up to my question by email was subsequently covered by paragraph 9 of the Code.
These were genuine mistakes which I fully accept personal responsibility for. However, my conduct and or actions were not done with any intention to mislead the House, or to make any personal private gain for me or any third party.
However, the difficulties that I have encountered are not just particular to me but affect my intake of 2010. That intake is acknowledged as having received no formal training regarding parliamentary rules and procedures when first elected. I am keen for the Committee to review these concerns, especially as my inadvertent breach as a lesson to everyone. I fully endorse the Committees proposals for further training for Members.
The need for training is further highlighted by the fact that I have discovered from the House of Commons Library, that 979 Members of all parties have made similar declarations as myself and possible mistakes. While this is not an excuse for any actions taken, it is ample proof for the need for training. I am of course more than happy to share my finding with you and the Committee.
I take my responsibilities and the role that I am privileged to enjoy as a Member, very seriously. I have already met with the Registrar, Ms Heather Wood virtually, who kindly took the time and trouble to go through with me all relevant procedure and practice to ensure that I do not inadvertently make another mistake in the future. The session was extremely informative, and I am grateful to Ms Wood in particular, I am fully supportive of the efforts of the Committee to implement regular training for colleagues. I found the help provided to me by Ms Wood, a very positive experience.
In closing I would like to thank the Commissioner for her guidance, compassion and understanding [Sensitive personal data redacted]. I would also like to unreservedly offer my sincere apologies to yourself and the Committee for regretfully having to deal with my inadvertent breach of the rules and to the House for any wrong and misinterpretations of my actions.
David Morris MP.
Published: 17 September 2020