Westminster City Council

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 9:52 am on 21st January 1998.

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Photo of Mr Nick St Aubyn Mr Nick St Aubyn Conservative, Guildford 9:52 am, 21st January 1998

I am not here to exonerate anyone. That is for the courts to do, and, indeed, what they have done in the case of all but two of those accused by Mr. Magill. In the light of their findings, it is hard to give an unqualified endorsement of Mr. Magill's actions. He certainly received no such endorsement from the three judges who examined the case.

We must now look to the future. We must consider how we can ensure probity in councils such as Glasgow, Islington and Paisley, and in other parts of the country. Such councils should adopt a new code of practice. They should read what Nolan has to say, and take account of his suggestion that they should emphasise the qualities of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and, above all, leadership that should characterise a code of conduct for every council in the country. I commend the pioneering work of the one council that has already adopted such a code: I refer, of course, to Westminster council.

I am proud of my time as a Westminster councillor. I know that my father-in-law, Councillor Brook, was proud of his time as a Westminster councillor, and I know that my wife's grandfather, Councillor Marshall, was proud of his time as a Westminster councillor. It is an outstanding council with an excellent record. That is why it has been given the endorsement of the local electorate time and again.

The hon. Member for Hendon failed in his attempt, because he was seen to be demeaning not only the actions of the few but the interests and the wider aspirations of the many. The people of Westminster will not forget the fact that, when he came back to Westminster, to the House, to take advantage of his privileged position to slag off most of those who live in Westminster in one way or another, by imputation, for not voting for him, he again let the side down.

Hon. Members should try to be more objective and fair in their analysis of a problem that stretches across the country.