HC Deb 26 February 1996 vol 272 cc587-8 3.30 pm
Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Will you, in the course of the afternoon, read pages 119 and 128 of the 21st edition of "Erskine May", which relate to the influencing of hon. Members? Page 128, under the heading "Improper influence", refers to the resolution of the House of Commons of 1695, which stated that the offer of money, or other advantage, to any Member of Parliament for the promoting of any matter whatsoever, depending or to be transacted in Parliament is a high crime and misdemeanour and tends to the subversion of the English Constitution. The current edition of "Erskine May" states also that the offering to a Member … of any fee or reward in connection with the promotion of, or opposition to any bill, resolution, matter or thing submitted or intended to be submitted to the House"—

Madam Speaker

Order. I am quite capable of reading, and the hon. Gentleman gave me the page numbers. What is the hon. Gentleman's point of order?

Mr. Mackinlay

It seems to me that if an extraordinary package is put together for one hon. Gentleman—a Conservative Member of Parliament—so that he can avoid disqualification from the House, that could unduly influence the hon. Gentleman's conduct. It goes to the heart of the matter. If that package had been put together exclusively to keep the hon. Gentleman in question in the House, that would affect his conduct. I ask you, Madam Speaker, to consider whether or not such a package is lawful, and whether such a package should be declared in the Register of Members' Interests.

Madam Speaker

If the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) believes that the matter may be a question of privilege, he should write to me and I will consider it in that light. If the hon. Gentleman believes that the matter relates to the standards of the House, the hon. Gentleman should write to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. If the hon. Gentleman is not clear in his own mind, if he will write to me, I will be glad to sort him out.

Mr. Jerry Hayes (Harlow)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I gave you written notice of this point of order, which concerns the conduct of the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd)—to whom I sent a courtesy note, to inform her of my remarks.

At the weekend, a well wisher gave me a letter from the hon. Member for Cynon Valley—of which you, Madam Speaker, have a copy. The letter is to Conservative constituency chairmen throughout the country, asking them to urge their Members of Parliament to vote against the Scott report. Of course that matter is for the hon. Lady. The difficulty is that the letter is on House of Commons notepaper. The added difficulty is that the letter was posted in a prepaid House of Commons envelope. I make no political points, Madam Speaker, but seek your guidance.

Madam Speaker

The political points come later. I would ask the hon. Gentleman to refer the matter to the Serjeant at Arms. The hon. Gentleman has been kind enough to let me have a copy of the document to which he refers. The Serjeant at Arms will be carrying out an inquiry, and he would be helped in that if the hon. Gentleman let him have any information in his possession.

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for writing to me to say that he was going to raise that point of order—but I could not understand his writing. I suggest that next time he writes to me he joins up his letters, or types.

I find it difficult to take seriously a point made by an hon. Member who is prepared—[Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. This matter has been referred to the Serjeant at Arms; the hon. Lady has been referred to; it is quite right that she should be heard.

Mrs. Clwyd

Parliament has been brought into disrepute by the hon. Gentleman dressing up as French maid, and by all sorts of other activities—

Madam Speaker

Order. I have given my ruling. The matter has been referred for an investigation.

Mr. Hayes


Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman would look very pretty as a French maid. I wish I had his curls.

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