Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards from Mr Frank Roy MP
Thank you for your recent letter and enclosures relating
to allegations of election on the outcome of the Speaker on October
23rd 2000. I would like to address the 7 points you raise as follows:
Q1 Whether you laid a bet on the outcome of the
election of the Speaker?
A A bet was placed on my behalf at the William
Hills Betting Office in Main Street, Wishaw.
Q2 If so the date of the bet, the amount of the
bet, the amount of the winnings and whether it was an individual
bet or a syndicate.
A A £200 bet was placed on my behalf
on the 20th July 2000. I won a total of £3,400. I was not
part of any syndicate. However I am aware that other individuals
from my constituency also shared in a 'pooled' win of £3,400.
Q3 What conversations were you involved in, on
what dates, to ascertain from colleagues the likely level of support
for Mr Martin as a candidate for Speaker?
A I was not a member of any campaign team
for any candidate to become Speaker. I attended a short informal
meeting (which I think took place on Tuesday 18th July) with other
potential supporters of Mr Martin in the days following the announcement
by Speaker Boothroyd on 12th July 2000. The group, which was lead
by Mrs Ann Keen MP (Brentford and Isleworth) had a geographic
spread of MPs, amongst whom was Mrs Irene Adams MP (Paisley North),
who I understood had volunteered to gauge what support there was
amongst Scottish MPs for Mr Martin. I did not become further involved
in the work of any campaign team. Mr Martin was not present at
I never discussed the election with Mrs Adams from
the start of the summer recess on 27th July until I was approached
by Mr John Boothman, a BBC TV Producer of the 'Holyrood' programme
on the morning of Wednesday 17th October to appear as a member
of Mr Martins campaign team on the programme scheduled for Sunday
22 October. I told Mr Boothman that I had no involvement in any
of the campaign teams, but that I would contact Mrs Adams and
pass his request onto her, which I did on the afternoon of the
17th October. However, throughout the few weeks before the summer
recess there was of course a great deal of informal chat amongst
MPs about who was, or who wasn't standing as a candidate for Speaker.
Like most other members I made my intentions known as to whom
I would cast my vote for, and in my particular case it was Mr
Q4 Whether you encouraged any Member of Parliament
to vote for Mr Martin and if so the names of those you encouraged
and the dates in question.
A At no time did I ever encourage any member
to vote for Mr Martin. However when asked who I intended voting
for by colleagues, I made it plain that I would be voting for
Q5 Whether you encouraged any Member to bet on
the outcome of this election and if so the names of those concerned?
A I never at any time denied that I had
a bet placed on my behalf for Mr Martin to become Speaker. To
my knowledge at the time, I had not broken any parliamentary betting
rules. Indeed, I had heard of many stories from colleagues that
a former Member, Ian Mikardo, actually 'ran books' on the outcome
of various elections associated with the House, and that for many
years betting was actually a part of the unique informal culture
in the House. Indeed, I drew many peoples attention to the fact
that William Hills had published betting odds on candidates in
various newspapers since a story appeared in The Mirror on Thursday
July 13th. At no time was I ever advised that I would be breaking
any parliamentary rules by any MP that I had spoken to, or by
any MP who had heard that I had a bet placed on my behalf. Indeed,
Mr Nicholas Winterton MP (Macclesfield) made it known when he
announced he would be standing as Speaker on the BBC Dispatch
Box programme during the week beginning the 24th July that Labour
MPs had bet Mr Martin to win the election, and still no-one either
reported the matter or asked for it to be investigated.
I have previously stated that I never at anytime
thought that I was breaking any rules by betting on the Speakership
election and therefore had no reason not to mention my bet to
anyone in particular. I know for a fact that members of the public
in my constituency had bet Mr Martin. However, I never at anytime
encouraged either MP or member of the public to bet on the election.
I take a very strong view that what people do with their own money
is their business and that I wouldn't want to be responsible should
they lose any of their money because I suggested to them that
they should place a bet on any candidate. The fact that William
Hills were giving odds on the election was very widely known as
I have previously indicated and it certainly wasn't any of my
business as to whether or not people chose to place a bet.
Q6 Whether you are aware of any other Member
who has laid a bet on the outcome of the election and if so please
give their names.
A I am not aware of any member who placed
a bet on the election other than myself. I was however approached
by a number of journalists asking to confirm if I knew which Members
had bet, and how much they had won. I replied to every one of
them that it was none of my business who laid bets on any candidate,
and that I wouldn't comment on claims I had no way of substantiating.
I would also be most grateful to have a clear ruling as to whether
or not it was acceptable in future for Members to place bets on
any general political matter, or on any elections carried out
in the House.
Q7 Any other information which you have that
would allow me to gain a complete picture.
A I hope that the information will enable
you to draw your own conclusions as to whether or not I knowingly
broke any parliamentary rules by the above episode. I would like
to put on record the sincere regret that I wasn't able to foresee
the huge disappointment felt by some people and outrage felt by
some others. Hindsight is never available when it's really needed,
and although I genuinely felt that I had done nothing wrong, nor
had anything to hide, I do regret the whole episode. I regret
especially the media attention thrown on my family, friends and
parliamentary colleagues and to Mr Martin in particular.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you feel
I need to expand on any points I have raised.
16 November 2000