ROTHER Valley MP Kevin Barron will face no further action and can return to chairing two Commons committees despite an investigation concluding that he breached Parliamentary rules.
Mr Barron, then chairman of the Parliamentary Standards Committee and the Committee of Privileges, referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner on Standards last year following newspaper allegations that he had organised two dinners and a breakfast in Parliament for the Japanese Pharmaceutical Group.
A report by the committee based on Commissioner Kathryn Hudson’s investigation was published today and said that he had committed a “minor” and “inadvertent” breach of a rule against accepting payment in return for arranging events.
It said the MP had entered into an agreement in 2011 to provide services to the Japanese Pharmaceutical Group (JPG).
“These services included meeting members of the JPG three times a year in central London and possibly sponsoring an occasional event at the House of Commons,” the report continued.
“In return, JPG agreed to pay ‘up to £5,000 per annum’ in the form of a donation to a charity in Rotherham which he had nominated (Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice).
“Kevin Barron lodged the agreement with the Registrar of Members’ Interests on May 3, 2011, with further agreements lodged in the same way in 2012 and 2014.
“He registered the payments received from JPG (three cheques of £3,000 made payable to the charity) as remuneration for employment in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests at about the same time as he submitted the agreements.
“Kevin Barron sponsored a total of three events at the House for JPG and on each occasion he declared his interest on the booking form and each invitation recorded the declaration.”
The Commissioner concluded that accepting the payments “constitutes a benefit to a Member acting as a sponsor for arranging the use of House of Commons facilities” and that Mr Barron therefore breached one of the Parliamentary rules.
But the final report noted that Mr Barron did not benefit financially himself from the arrangement and said the rule breach was “clearly at the least serious end of the spectrum”.
There was no reason to doubt the MP’s “integrity or honesty”, the report said.
The Rother Valley MP was cleared of two other possible breaches.
The report said: “The Commissioner concludes that Kevin Barron adhered fully to the rules on disclosure of his relationship with JPG and did not breach the 1995 resolution of the House, which prevents a Member entering into a contractual agreement with an outside body, controlling or limiting the Member’s complete independence and freedom of action in Parliament.”
Mr Barron said following the report’s publication today that it had “found no serious breaches as I always maintained”.
He added: “The inquiry has found a ‘minor’ and ‘inadvertent’ breach of a banqueting rule.
“I felt that I had taken all the steps I could to check the rules, but acknowledge my mistake.
“Just to make it absolutely clear, this arrangement led to no personal financial gain as payment was made, as a donation, to a local children's hospice in my constituency.
“I would like to thank Kathryn Hudson for her very thorough investigation into this matter and the Committee on Standards for their judgement.
“I will be resuming my duties as Chair of the Committee on Standards and the Committee of Privileges.
“It has always been a huge honour to chair these committees and I am delighted to return to this role.”
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