“Don’t forget to bring your cheque book”: Virendra Sharma MP’s office breach Parliamentary rulesPosted on April 4, 2012
The way MPs use their taxpayer-funded expenses and facilities is an area the public are understandably concerned about. The MPs’ expenses scandal was a disinfecting burst of sunshine into some pretty dingy corners of Westminster and led to a welcome clear-out of some representatives of the people who saw the rules merely as recommendations.
One element of the rules which is long-standing and extremely clear is that MPs’ Parliamentary resources (staff time, computers etc) is explicitly and solely for use in their Parliamentary duties. As the Members’ Handbook puts it:
“These facilities and services are provided in order to assist Members in their parliamentary work. They should be used appropriately, in such a way as to ensure that the reputation of the House is not put at risk. They should not be used for party political campaigning or private business activity.”
Apparently not all Members are so keen on this rule.
Last Wednesday, the following email was sent out by Julian Bell, researcher for Virendra Sharma MP, apparently to all members of their constituency Labour Party:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: BELL, Julian <BELLJG@parliament.uk>
Date: 28 March 2012 13:48
Subject: Dr Onkar Sahota’s GLA Campaign Launch – This Saturday 7 untill 10 pm at the Dominion Centre, The Green, Southall, UB2 4BQ
The Mayoral and GLA campaign has now entered the legal short stage and there are only 36 days to polling day on 3rd May. With their budget for millionaires and a Tory Councillor being suspended for a racist blog they really are the same old Tories. Tory Mayor Boris Johnson and Tory Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes are no different and there will be no better chance than now to kick them out of office.
In order to do just that and to launch Dr Onkar Sahota’s campaign for Ealing and Hillingdon we are holding a campaign launch and fundraising meeting this Saturday 31st March at 7 pm at the Dominion Centre, The Green, Southall, UB2 4BQ. Please come along and give Onkar your support. Bring along other Party members and enjoy an evening of politics, food, drink and socialising. Don’t forget to bring your cheque book.
Steve Pound MP
John McDonnell MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Cllr Julian Bell
Cllr Mo Khursheed
As you can see, it is from a Parliamentary email account, written by a Parliamentary researcher and yet is a highly partisan invitation to a party political election campaign event, which doubles as a party fundraiser. There can be no doubt this is a breach of the very clear rules of the House of Commons.I’ve always thought the MPs’ expenses scandal was unlikely to be the last we would see of MPs abusing their position – but I didn’t necessarily expect it to start again so soon. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is unlikely to be very pleased about this, I suspect.
Tags: Cllr Julian Bell, Cllr Mo Khursheed, Dr Onkar Sahota, Ealing, Ealing Southall, Ed Miliband, GLA, House of Commons, John McDonnell MP, Ken Livingstone, Labour, Labour Party, London, London Assembly, London Elections, London Mayor, London Mayoral Election, MLAs, MPs expenses, New Labour, opinion, Parliament, Politics, Socialism, Southall, Steven Pound MP, Virendra Sharma MP, Westminster