Standards and Privileges

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:02 pm on 23rd July 2007.

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Photo of George Galloway George Galloway Respect, Bethnal Green and Bow 6:02 pm, 23rd July 2007

I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, for your earlier remarks.

I want to begin by apologising to the House for the fact that the important business that was transacted before we came to this matter necessarily had to be truncated because this is going to be a significant piece of business that must finish at 10 o'clock. Thus hon. Members who wished to speak on the devastating flooding that is inundating their constituencies were not called or had to be more succinct than they would have preferred. The great issue of public housing, which is the flagship of the new Labour Prime Minister's first term—at least I hope it is his first term—had to be dealt with in a very perfunctory manner because of the other business that awaited. We have dealt with the important issue of intergovernmental relations within the European Union. We have had the happy occasion of the entry into the House of two new Members, just as one long-serving Member is about to go out the door. It just goes to show that as one door opens another one shuts.

I apologise for the fact that after this mighty labour, which has brought forth really quite a little mouse, we now have to spend four hours, as we shall, discussing this matter. There was no trace of irony in the report. I suspect that that is because British baronets do not do irony, or at least not very well, and that there will not be much trace of irony in the speech that is to follow mine. Once the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards had decided, as he said not once but six times in his report, that, in the course of a four-year investigation described by the Committee as being of unprecedented length and complexity, he had found no evidence of any personal gain by me, this whole story became a dispute about the funding of political campaigns. Being lectured by the current House of Commons on the funding of political campaigns is like being accused of having bad taste by Donald Trump or being accused of slouching by the hunchback of Notre Dame. This House stands in utter ill repute on the question of the funding of political campaigns.

I shall develop that argument later. Suffice, for the moment, to say this. The police found a document with a list of secret lenders to the Labour party, every single one of whom was nominated either for a "K" or for what Lord Levy described as a "big P". This Parliament is stuffed full of political parties that were in turn stuffed full of secret loans and donations from millionaires or billionaires. None of the parties here—all three of them are culpable, a matter to which I shall return—ever asked the millionaires and billionaires who gave and lent them money where they got the money from. I am tempted to give just one example. Richard Desmond is a substantial benefactor to the Labour party. Did the treasurer of the Labour party ask Richard Desmond from which part of his considerable wealth he was donating handsomely to new Labour's coffers? Did the treasurer of the Labour party—I apologise to Ms Harman for the language that I am about to use—ask if Mr. Desmond was giving from the profits of "Spunk-Loving Sluts", "Asian Babes", XXX pornographic television, or the profits of the Daily Star

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