HC Deb 14 October 1996 vol 282 cc463-4 3.30 pm
Madam Speaker

I have a short announcement to make. While the House has been adjourned, very serious allegations have been widely made about the conduct of a number of Members. Indeed, the reputation of the House as a whole has been called into question. As Speaker, I am bound to be concerned about that. It is not for me to make any kind of judgment on the merits of the complaints made; but I would not be doing my duty as Speaker if I allowed this situation to pass without saying that I believe very strongly indeed that these matters must be resolved as soon as possible.

I hope that the Committee on Standards and Privileges will find it possible to make an early special report to the House, so that the full nature and scope of any investigations that it undertakes may be made known. If the Committee or the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards needs additional powers, no doubt the House will be invited to decide whether they should be granted. I can assure the House that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the Committee and the Commissioner are adequately staffed for whatever investigation they may undertake.

A number of other things need to be added. I will not allow allegations of misconduct to be made across the Floor of the House. Wherever the complaints are heard, the Members concerned are entitled to know precisely what it is they have to answer. The proceedings should be as transparent as possible so as to maintain public confidence and at the end, the issues ought to be resolved by a decision of the House.