Personal Statement

– in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 22nd May 1995.

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Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare 4:23 pm, 22nd May 1995

With your permission, Madam Speaker, I should like to make a personal statement.

I wish unreservedly to apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe) and to the House for having tabled amendments to a Bill in Standing Committee in his name but without his knowledge or consent.

I act as parliamentary adviser to the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, a fact which is declared in the Register of Members' Interests and of which my hon. Friend is aware. I thought that he would be supportive of the amendments, so I wrote to him, and we spoke the following day. As soon as he informed me that he was not willing to move them, I apologised to him and withdrew the amendments from the Standing Committee's amendment paper. They never came before the Committee. Nevertheless, I repeat my apologies to the House and to my hon. Friend, for an action which I acknowledge was at odds with the proper expectations of the House.

I am aware too that suspicions have been voiced that my motive in tabling the amendments in the name of a colleague was to avoid the declaration of a financial interest that I possess and he does not. I accept that the amendments would have benefited the association for which I act as parliamentary adviser. My purpose in tabling the amendments in the name of a member of the Standing Committee was, however, to improve their chances of being considered, as I was not in a position to move them myself in Committee.

There was no intention to deceive, but I accept that my actions were open to other interpretations and I wish to apologise to the House without reservation for any harm that they may have done to its reputation.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

I have a short statement to make. The House has now heard the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Sir J. Wiggin) make an apology for his conduct. We do not debate or comment on such statements, but I make the point that, whatever structures and procedures we have in the House, we cannot legislate for integrity, and individual Members should act in such a manner whereby their integrity is not called into question.

I trust that this is the last distasteful occasion on which the Speaker is obliged to inquire into the conduct of an hon. Member.