MP Scott Benton claims ways around hospitality rules

Image supply, Times newspaper

Scott Benton has been filmed by undercover reporters showing to clarify how corporations and MPs can keep away from registering company hospitality.

The MP was suspended by the Tory Party after The Times revealed a video of him providing to foyer for a faux agency.

Commons rules require MPs to reveal hospitality value £300 or extra.

Mr Benton joked racing tickets he had accepted usually got here to £295.

The Blackpool South MP, who chairs an all-party group with hyperlinks to the playing business, has declared just one race assembly since he was elected in 2019.

This was a go to to Ascot in 2021 value £1,400, funded by the Betting and Gaming Council, an business lobbying group.

Speaking to the undercover reporters, who have been posing as buyers within the playing business, he mentioned: “Quite a lot of corporations attempt to be fairly cute in regards to the degree of the hospitality to verify it falls slightly below [£300], so folks do not must declare it.

“It usually works for the corporate, and it usually works for MPs as nicely.

“Without saying too much, you’d be amazed at the number of times I’ve been to races and the ticket comes to £295,” he was filmed saying, and laughing.

The MPs’ code of conduct says members should register items, advantages or hospitality “with a value of over £300 which they receive form a UK source”.

The BBC has not seen the complete, unedited video of Mr Benton’s assembly with the reporters. He has been approached for recent remark.

According to the Times – however not in its video posted on-line – he additionally instructed its reporters: “I most likely should not say this, however basically all MPs are in search of is an electronic mail chain saying that is how a lot a ticket price, so if we get caught out it is like, nicely the corporate instructed me it price this a lot.

“And basically what you [the company] paid for is no one else’s enterprise.”

Mr Benton can also be mentioned by the paper to have prompt MPs will help corporations who give them hospitality.

“Most would, particularly if the ask wasn’t too onerous, which might be ‘Can you attempt to discover out X, Y and Z from members of employees, file a parliamentary query, or submit this query subsequent time oral questions come up within the House of Commons”.

This part additionally doesn’t seem within the video posted on-line.

Mr Benton was suspended as a Tory MP after referring himself to the parliamentary requirements commissioner on Wednesday.

This adopted a Times report that he was provided a paid advisory function by the undercover reporters.

He didn’t pursue the function and no particular rules seem to have been damaged, although the code of conduct says MPs ought to “by no means undertake any motion which might trigger important injury to the repute and integrity of the House of Commons as a complete, or of its Members typically”.

Mr Benton was secretly filmed saying he may desk parliamentary questions and leak a confidential coverage paper.

Some MPs have declared hospitality beneath £300 – together with Tory backbencher Peter Bone and Labour’s shadow tradition secretary Lucy Powell.

Mr Benton has not declared any hospitality supplied by playing corporations up to now 12 months. He has declared £700 value of hospitality for the Championship play-off closing from the English Football League.

MPs and members of the House of Lords routinely settle for items and hospitality from corporations, people, charities and different organisations.

This shouldn’t be in opposition to the rules, supplied they declare it within the register of members pursuits.

The playing business is among the greatest spenders on company hospitality at Westminster.

According to BBC evaluation, MPs have accepted a minimum of £51,000 from playing corporations over the previous 12 months.

In all however one case, this was via donations of tickets and hospitality to occasions together with sports activities occasions and concert events. MPs attended concert events by Ed Sheeran and Adele, a Championship playoff match at Wembley, and Cheltenham Races without cost.

The donations have been declared by 22 Conservative MPs, 13 Labour MPs and one impartial.

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