24 July 2007
PASC STATEMENT ON PROPRIETY AND HONOURS
At its meeting today, the Committee decided to resume its inquiry into propriety and the honours system.
This inquiry builds on the Committee's recent work on the honours system A Matter of Honour: Reforming the Honours System, and its recently published report on Ethics and Standards: The Regulation of Conduct in Public Life..
As part of the latter inquiry the Committee announced, on 14 March 2006, that it would undertake a separate strand of inquiry on propriety issues relating to the honours system, including nominations to the House of Lords.
Shortly after this inquiry was announced, on 21 March 2006 the Metropolitan Police announced their own inquiry. They asked us to suspend the Committee's inquiry and, after discussion with the police and the CPS, and after taking our own legal advice, we decided to do so. Our concern was to ensure that there could be no prejudice to the police inquiry, or to a possible prosecution. We issued an interim report Propriety and Honours: Interim Findings, with an indication that we would return to the matter, if appropriate, once the police inquiry was concluded.
The police investigation has lasted much longer than was anticipated, and has now ended in a decision by the CPS that there are no grounds for prosecution. The police investigation has clearly been thorough and exhaustive, and they have had access to material that would not have been available to us. They have sought to keep the Committee informed about the progress of their inquiry.
Now that the police investigation is concluded, the Committee is able to resume its own inquiry. Its purpose is not to continue the police inquiry by other means, but to consider the policy and regulatory issues that arise from it. We plan to hold evidence sessions after Parliament returns from its summer recess, and to report by the end of the year.
Relevant witnesses are being identified. It is expected that one of them will be Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who expressed a willingness at the outset of his inquiry to discuss issues arising from it with us once it was concluded.
Committee Membership is as follows: Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Charles Walker (Con) (Broxbourne), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)
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