Yes, that takes part of the trick, but it does not resolve the fundamental problem. Even in those circumstances where a Member self-referred himself to the Members' Allowances Committee and got the go-ahead, there would still be the possibility of double jeopardy, to which the hon. Gentleman referred. The self-referring Member may well get the green light from the Members' Allowances Committee and go ahead. There may well be a complaint from a member of the public to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, who may well feel that there is a prima facie case and go ahead. There is an element of risk of double jeopardy.
The answer is a good working relationship between my Committee, the commissioner and the new Committee, to make sure that we minimise the risk of double jeopardy. I personally welcome the establishment of the Committee, and I hope it will produce guidelines that clarify the rules and reduce the risk of Members making mistakes.
I was reassured by the statement of the Deputy Leader of the House on the record that notwithstanding anything that may be before the House this evening, the duties, powers and responsibilities of the Committee on Standards and Privileges or the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards are not affected. It was enormously helpful to have that on the record, endorsed by my hon. Friend Alan Duncan. That takes the trick.
There was concern on my Committee at the possibility of the Nolan settlement being picked away. Against the background of the assurances that I have been given, I am much happier than I was and I look forward to working with the right hon. Member for Islwyn and his Committee in driving up standards in the House.
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