HC Deb 18 November 1997 vol 301 cc164-5 4.25 pm
Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker, of which I have given you notice. I should stress that it does not deal with a cheap or party political point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If it did, I would not have raised it on an afternoon when the House was bound to be three quarters empty.

It deals with a subject that will concern hon. Members from both sides of the House, and with a matter that undermines the rules of the House. The matter strikes at the entire purpose—it negates the purpose—of having a Register of Members' Interests. [HON. MEMBERS: "Boring."] Far from being boring, it is very important.

In last Thursday's edition of The Times, there was a report that the Prime Minister had gone to last year's Silverstone grand prix as a guest of formula one, yet had not entered the visit in the Register of Members' Interests. I have checked with the Registrar of Members' Interests, and he stated that the rules of the House are quite clear. The rules are that, if the visit were a gift of hospitality worth more than £215, it should have been entered. I checked with the Silverstone authorities, and they told me that it is likely to cost more than £215 to take only one person to Silverstone, and that it would cost a great deal more than that to take two people or a family.

Since I have been making the investigations, I have discovered that one David Ward—a professional lobbyist employed by the Formula One Association—arranged for the Prime Minister to go to the Silverstone grand prix as a guest of Max Mosley, and that that is when he met Bernie Ecclestone.

Some people will say that the matter is old hat and last week's news. There has, however, been no explanation or discussion of the matter. I seek your advice, Madam Speaker. It seems that all hon. Members—not only Opposition Members—should be given an explanation of why the Register of Members' Interests is not up to date.

Madam Speaker

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have a Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, a senior officer of the House whom we employ to deal with such matters. As the hon. Gentleman is also aware, such matters should not be raised on the Floor of the House. He may wish to put the matter to the Parliamentary Commissioner