The man who succeeded Tony Blair as Labour’s MP for Sedgefield is facing some pretty searching questions over his donations today. Phil Wilson has brought up Hitachi’s new factory in the House on no less than 22 separate occasions, coincidentally receiving over £10,000 in donations from Hitachi and the site’s developer. Tory MP John Glen has now reported him to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner:
Dear Ms Hudson,
I am writing to draw your attention to a potential breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, with regard to the declaration of financial interests.
On the 23rd January 2013, Phil Wilson MP registered a donation of £5,700 from Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd, and on the 31st January 2013 registered a donation of £5,700 from Merchant Place Developments.
In a Parliamentary debate on the 31st January, Mr Wilson spoke about Hitachi’s new factory in Newton Aycliffe, on a site developed by Merchant Place Developments. At no time did he draw attention to his entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
The Code of Conduct clearly states that, ‘a financial interest should be declared if it might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question’. I note that Mr Wilson has mentioned Hitachi’s investment on no less than 22 separate occasions in Parliament, and lobbied Ministers in its favour. Clearly it is a matter of public interest to know whether or not there was any expectation of future financial interest when he made these speeches.
Of course it is entirely appropriate for Members to draw attention to successful businesses in their constituencies, particularly those that contribute to the decline in unemployment that the UK is experiencing under this government. However, where a Member has received significant political donation from a company, it is essential for transparency and public faith in Parliament for this to be made clear so that they may judge a Member’s remarks in that context.
John Glen MP
One to keep an eye on…