Jenkin apologises to the Commons

AN Essex MP has apologised to the House of Commons for having possibly broken rules on the use of dining facilities for political fundraising.Bernard Jenkin (Conservative, Essex North) made the highly unusual move in a point of order to the Deputy Speaker Sir Michael Lord.

Graham Dines

AN Essex MP has apologised to the House of Commons for having possibly broken rules on the use of dining facilities for political fundraising.

Bernard Jenkin (Conservative, Essex North) made the highly unusual move in a point of order to the Deputy Speaker Sir Michael Lord.

His apology came after newspaper allegations that Mr Jenkin had booked a room for a lunch in the House of Commons to raise funds for The Prince's Trust and campaign group Women2Win.

Lady Thatcher was guest of honour at the lunch and 12 people paid �1,675 each to attend.

However, Women2Win is a member's association of the Conservative party and the newspaper alleged Mr Jenkin had therefore breached rules banning the use of Commons facilities for party fundraising.

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Mr Jenkin, who made his statement before any inquiry that may be convened, said: “Would it be in order for me to apologise to the House as I believe I may have breached the new rules on the use of Commons dining facilities in relation to political fundraising.

“I hosted a lunch for a leading charity in a Commons dining room on October 19, 2007.

“I have written with a full explanation to the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Mr John Lyon, asking for his advice and for him to take whatever action he considers appropriate.

“However, it is my understanding that he can neither give me advice nor investigate this matter at my instigation.

“I wish to acknowledge, though the new rules were not fully in force at the time, it was a mistake for me not to have taken proper advice - so I apologise without reservation for any breach of the rules.”

Mr Jenkin was told by Sir Michael that it was not strictly a point of order for him. “But you have made your position quite clear.

“It is firmly on the record and no doubt the House authorities will take note of what you have said.”

The rules have been tightened recently to prevent House of Commons dining facilities being used by MPs for party political fundraising purposes.