Following Tuesday's meeting with the panel set up by the National Executive Committee of The Labour Party, and the upholding of their recommendations by the Organisation Committee, I wish to make the following statement:
“Although I was told it was not to be a disciplinary hearing, it turned out to be so. I was allowed to bring one 'silent friend' with me and Martin Booth, President of Norwich Constituency Labour Party, offered to accompany me. He has commented elsewhere that their final decision was a fait accompli and I have to agree. I felt the panel had made their mind up prior to the interview and the considerable local and national support from constituents and non-constituents, although available, was not examined. A document produced by the CLP was presented but there were no questions addressed to it. Nor were any questions asked about my personal statement which I had also submitted.
The panel asked me if I felt my actions contravened the 2009 Code of Conduct clause in The Green Book, which states that claims should not give rise to “improper personal financial benefits to themselves or anyone else”. This clause did not feature in Codes of Conduct in Green Books prior to 2009, when my daughter and her partner were living with me and when I sold my property to them, and even if it had I do not believe that there was anything improper about my actions. It still remains unclear which rule I have broken and I have not received the verdict in writing yet. I asked them to draw a line in the sand and to think carefully before taking a position on the family life of MPs, and the ways in which Parliamentary life intrudes upon family life. I was really pleased to be able to share my flat with my daughter and her partner.
The issue of my selling-on my second home below the market price begs the question why did I not sell it on the open market and make a profit? Some MPs did and, no doubt, gave or shared the proceeds with their family members. In my case I was not motivated by making a profit. I received the equivalent of the mortgage loan for the flat, namely £162,000 which was due to be repaid in November 2009. I will be required to repay an additional loan incurred by having to re-mortgage my first home in Norwich in order to buy the flat for £195,000 in 1999.
It was, and will be, my personal money and not the taxpayers which will be used to pay-off the re-mortgage. This helped to reduce the mortgage interest payments made by the taxpayer for my second home. I will, of course, be paying Capital Gains Tax on the sale of my second home, the exact amount of which will be determined in consultation with my accountant when preparing my 2008-09 tax return later this year.
I did not cover up, as implied by The Daily Telegraph, that my daughter and her partner shared my second home. Their names appeared on the electoral register. The address was only removed from my published receipts to meet the requirements of the House Authorities who were redacting, ie blanking out, members and staff addresses, telephone numbers and bank account details to comply with the Data Protection Act. Unredacted material was, of course, sold to The Daily Telegraph.
It has been my great honour to have served the people of Norwich North as their MP since 1997. I am proud to have voted with the Government on the introduction of Tax Credits, Pension Credits and the Minimum Wage etc., but equally proud to have voted against invading Iraq, ID Cards, renewing Trident missiles and the charging of University Top-Up Fees.
I wish to publicly thank the hundreds of people who sent me messages of support. The decision of the NEC leaves me today bowed but not broken. However, I believe that my position as an MP between now and the next election is untenable. And after discussions with my family, colleagues, party members and my admirable staff, I have decided to tender my resignation as an MP with immediate effect and I expect it to be accepted.”
Friday, June 05, 2009
Ian Gibson Forces Norwich North By Election
I cut my political teeth in Norwich North. I know the seat like the back of my hand. I also know Ian Gibson. His decision to stand down as an MP is an honourable one and I have no hesitation in publishing the full text of the statement he has just released. It begs some questions, not least, will he stand as an Independent candidate in the by election? UPDATE: No he won't. Chloe Smith is the Tory PPC there and is absolutely excellent. She will no doubt have received the shock of her life this afternoon. Cometh the hour. Cometh the woman.