Point of Order

– in the House of Commons at 4:33 pm on 10th May 2011.

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Photo of Menzies Campbell Menzies Campbell Liberal Democrat, North East Fife 4:33 pm, 10th May 2011

On a point of order, Mr Speaker, of which I believe that you have been given advance notice. You may be aware that this morning the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges met to consider the confidential report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards following the self-referral to the commissioner of my right hon. Friend Mr Laws. Shortly after the conclusion of that meeting, Sky News and the Evening Standard were reporting that the commissioner had found my right hon. Friend guilty of breaching expenses rules. What protection is available to hon. and right hon. Members who find themselves in such a position? Such leaking risks undermining the work of the commissioner and of the Committee on which we all rely. What confidence can my right hon. Friend have that he has been, and will continue to be, given a fair hearing and that the principles of natural justice will be upheld?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his point of order, and to Mr Carmichael, for giving me advance notice of the intention to raise it. Like the right hon. and learned Gentleman and other hon. and right hon. Members, I strongly deprecate any leaks that take place that constitute a discourtesy to this House. However, I have to say to him that at this stage I have no detailed or authoritative knowledge of the matter and that it is not, at this juncture, a matter specifically for me. However, the very real concern that the right hon. and learned Gentleman feels, for his own part and that of others, has been registered, and if there has been any unauthorised disclosure it is, in the first instance, a matter for the Committee concerned to consider. I hope that is a clear and fair response. I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman.