Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, as Theresa May tries to reach agreement on the UK-EU Brexit deal
Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge has breached the MPs’ code of conduct and should apologise to the House of Commons, a parliamentary sleaze watchdog has found. As the Press Association reports, the Commons committee on standards found that Hodge used parliamentary facilities, such as stationery and phones, to carry out work on the review of London’s proposed Garden Bridge for the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. The PA story says:
The committee noted in a report that the sums of money involved were “very small” and that the Barking MP, who became prominent as a scourge of wrong-doers in her former role as chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, said she was not aware she was committing a breach.
But it said the offence was aggravated by the fact that she allowed her parliamentary office to be used as many as 20 times for the review and “did nothing to prevent the impression being given that her work on the review was conducted on behalf of, or in some way connected with, the House of Commons”.
I am extremely sorry that I inadvertently breached parliamentary rules. I carried out this inquiry in good faith and in the public interest. I think all MPs would benefit from greater clarity in the rules governing the use of offices.
The Electoral Commission has sent out a note explaining the rules relating to spending for “permitted participants” (campaigning organisations) at an election. It says:
The law enables non-party campaigners which wish to undertake ‘targeted spending’ – intended to influence people to vote for one particular registered political party or any of its candidates – to do so within prescribed spending limits. These are £31,980 in England; £3,540 in Scotland; £2,400 in Wales; and £1,080 in Northern Ireland. These limits apply during the regulated period which is 9 June 2016 to 8 June 2017.
Registered non-party campaigners are only entitled to spend above these limits if they have the authorisation of the political party that they are promoting. If that party provides authorisation, the registered non-party campaigner can spend up to the limit authorised by the political party. It is an offence to spend above the statutory limits without the party’s authorisation. Should the party provide authorisation for a higher spending limit, any spending by that non-party campaigner up to that limit would count towards the party’s national spending limit.