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Hodge says sorry for using £2.97 of Commons paper on Garden Bridge report

Margaret hodge crop
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Margaret Hodge has apologised for using House-provided stationery costing £2.97 – in breach of MP rules – for her report into the Garden Bridge scandal

Parliamentary commissioner for standards Kathryn Hudson concluded that Hodge was breach of paragraph 15 of the Code of Conduct for Members, which states that MPs ‘shall ensure that their use of public resources is always in support of their parliamentary duties’, when she used an estimated 70 sheets of parliamentary-supplied paper in connection with the report.

Hudson also concluded that, alongside her use of stationery, Hodge’s use of her parliament office for roughly 20 meetings with 41 people for the GLA-commissioned report, amounted to a ‘serious breach’ of the code. 

Her decision was then carried by the parliamentary Committee on Standards, which concluded in a report that Hodge ‘was in breach of the code of conduct by using house facilities for work which fell outside her parliamentary duties, and for allowing the impression to be given that this work was being conducted in her official capacity’.

The committee ruled that the ‘appropriate sanction’ for Hodge’s failings was that ‘she should make an apology for this breach on a point of order on the floor of the house’.

Responding to the committee’s report, Hodge said: ‘I am extremely sorry that I inadvertently breached Parliamentary rules. I carried out this inquiry in good faith and in the public interest. I think all MPs would benefit from greater clarity in the rules governing the use of offices.’

The report also noted that Hodge initially produced the report on a pro-bono basis, but was later paid £9,500 by the GLA in recognition of the ‘significant amount’ the review required. 

The commissioner received an allegation in June from Conservative GLA member Andrew Boff that Hodge had ‘used offices on the parliamentary estate and House-provided stationery to undertake paid work commissioned by a third party which was not in support of her parliamentary duties’. Boff said Hodge had consequently received ‘undue financial benefit as a result of her use of publicly funded resources’.

Hudson said she came to her conclusion because of a number of factors, including that the GLA set the terms of reference and took ownership of the review, as well as that report was to be provided directly to the GLA, as the ‘customer’, and it was not expected to be considered by parliament or any of its committees.

In April, Hodge’s damning report into the controversial Heatherwick Studio-designed scheme advised mayor of London Sadiq Khan to cancel the Garden Bridge and accept that £46 million of public money has been lost. 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Now it's clearly time to investigate the Parliamentary commissioner for standards Kathryn Hudson for demeaning her office pursuing such a shrivelled complaint.

    Let's get this straight: the then Mayor of London (and now Foreign Sec) abused his position prematurely greenlighting his pet project without any analysis of the risk to the public purse (which has turned out to be £46m wasted), or any proper reporting or accountability subsequently. His chief officer, the £650k p.a. salaried Peter Hendy acted ultra vires in pursuing and misprocuring the project, and failing to warn or restrain the Mayor. Hendy's officers and the Mayor's deputy did the dirty deeds, and some were rewarded with international jobs at the company benefiting from the misprocurement of the project. The Dept of Transport had serious reservations, but failed to sufficiently flag these, and were rolled over by the Treasury - whose job is protect the public purse - on instruction from the then Chancellor, now Standard Editor. The Standard backed it. Lambeth Council and Westminster Council failed to use their planning powers to protect the City from what was clearly an inappropriate and unsustainable project, and Lambeth Council even bent over backwards to sell it the land on which to build the south landing of the bridge, even as it was becoming evident that it wasn't deliverable. The Corporation of London, the Temple and St Paul's were all against it, but none of them dared to show themselves above the parapets of their bastions of privelege, and instead it was left to ordinary Londoners (and the AJ!) to mount a campaign questioning this nonsense.

    For four years no one in power was willing to do their duty, show some political strength, and call time on this nonsense. New Mayor Sadiq was finally willing to do so, but only if he had solid evidence from somebody appropriate. Step forward the former chair of PAC - our foremost protector of the public purse when the Treasury fails - a woman sufficiently confident in her political acumen to show the courage an army of politicians had failed to show.

    Hodge should be carried shoulder high through the streets of London - and across it's bridges - for saving the public purse anything up to £200m and at least £3m a year forever in maintenance of this grotesque folly, and for daring to bring a halt to the ultimate modern-day Heatherwickian tale (and there are plenty of them) of the Emperor's New Clothes.

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  • We have a great deal to thank Margaret Hodge for - and if she was a politician in Moscow, rather than London, she might well be suffering not so much from the petty vindictiveness of the Westminster establishment as from threats to her life.

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