Tory MP David Morris has been ordered to apologise to the Commons after he breached parliamentary rules on paid advocacy.
Last year Morris asked a question and sent a follow-up email to the business secretary relating to a firm which had given him a £10,000 donation the previous month.
The Committee on Standards ruled that Morris had breached the code of conduct for MPs on two occasions.
Falling short of requirements
The code of conduct states that MPs can’t lobby for financial or material benefit for a person or organisation, if they have received a donation from that organisation in the previous six months.
But on 22 October 2019, Morris asked Ofgem (the government regulator for electricity and gas) to “protect” companies such as Aquind through a regulatory regime. He had accepted a £10,000 donation from the energy firm the previous month.
Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, concluded in her report that Morris’s question “sought to confer a financial or material benefit on the company”. The report said Morris made a “brief declaration of a relevant interest” in his email to the business secretary but it “did not meet the requirements of the rules”.
The next day, Morris emailed the business Secretary with additional questions. The commissioner found this also breached the paid advocacy rule.
Stone also criticised the Morecambe and Lunesdale MP’s conduct during the inquiry. She said:
“I consider Mr Morris’s conduct during my inquiry to be regrettable and disrespectful of the House’s system of standards. Mr Morris has now acknowledged and apologised for his breach of the rules and for his conduct during my inquiry. I have also accepted that his breach of the rules was inadvertent.”
The committee recommended that Morris apologise to the Commons by means of a personal statement.
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