I would like your thoughts on what is reasonable and unreasonable conduct for an MP. In a series of Moral mazes I am going to pose some everyday dilemmas that could face an MP. I do not have any particular MP in mind for any particular scenario, but these are all possible scenarios that could arise.
The first series of issues arise with the MPâ€™s ability to offer refreshments to guests in the pleasant Commons dining rooms looking out over the Thames in the historic Palace of Westminster. Which(if any) of the following should be a) permitted b) against the Commons rules c) against the Criminal Law?
1. The MP decides it is too dangerous to invite friends and relatives, preferring to be sure by not using the facility.
2. The MP invites a rich acquaintance from the constituency to dinner. They do not discuss party funding, the guest turns out not to be a donor, and the MP pays for the meal himself.
3. As 2 above, but the guest says at the end of the meal he has enjoyed it so much as he earns so much more than the MP he will pay the bill. The MP allows him to do so.
4. As 2 above, but two weeks after the dinner the guest is approached independently by the MPâ€™s party, and willingly gives a donation to the party. The MP is unaware this has happened.
5. The MP invites a rich acquaintance from the constituency to dinner and does mention during the course of the dinner the poor state of his partyâ€™s finances.
The guest makes an independent donation without telling the MP after the dinner.
6. The MP invites a rich guest to dinner who has already given to his party, to say thank you to him.
7. The MP invites a rich person to dinner, tells him of the poor state of party finances during the course of the meal, and follows up 2 weeks later to ask for a donation.
8. The MPâ€™s party organisation offers a meal with the MP at the Commons as a raffle prize in an expensive raffle to raise money at a fund raising event. The MP hosts the dinner for the prize winner.
9. The MP offers a meal for two at the House with him as host to a local charity. They sell the offer as a prize to raise money.
10. The MP allows his family to come to dinner at the Commons to celebrate a private family event, and pays the bill himself.
11. The MP allows members of his family to come to an event at the Commons, and allows another family member to pay the bill and act as the effective host.
12. The MP acts as a host for a company from his constituency who want to lay on a dinner for themselves and leading customers in the Commons. The company pays the bill. The MP attends as official host and receives a free dinner for his trouble.
13. The MP acts as host for a private sector body or lobby group to hold a drinks reception in the Commons to put their point of view to other MPs and Ministers.
14. The MP acts as host to a public sector quango to present its case to MPs over a meal in the Commons.