South Scotland

Scottish secretary cleared of breaking ministerial code

Mundell and Arkless Image copyright Other
Image caption Scottish Secretary David Mundell was the subject of a complaint by his neighbouring MP Richard Arkless

Scotland's only Conservative MP has been cleared of breaking House of Commons rules by officially opening a foodbank in Dumfries.

David Mundell was accused of failing to give "proper notice" that he was attending an event in another MP's constituency.

Dumfries and Galloway SNP MP Richard Arkless said he received a "panicky" email an hour before the event.

Mr Mundell insisted the foodbank also served his own constituency.

The Scottish secretary faced protests from anti-austerity protesters at the opening of the facility in July last year.

He had previously questioned claims that the UK govenment's welfare reform agenda was behind a rise in foodbank use.

Image caption David Mundell opened the Trussell Trust foodbank in Dumfries last summer

Mr Arkless later complained to the Speaker and the Cabinet Office about the actions of his neighbouring MP, who represents Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

He said he believed Mr Mundell may have broken the ministerial code in relation to the acceptable behaviour of MPs.

House of Commons Speakers had repeatedly instructed that MPs intending to perform a public engagement in another member's constituency should inform them and "proper notice" should be given, according to Mr Arkless.

However, a spokesman for the Cabinet Office confirmed to the BBC Scotland news website that Mr Mundell did not break any rules.

He said the cabinet secretary wrote to Mr Arkless in September to advise him that Mr Mundell's visit was undertaken in his capacity as a constituency MP.

Image caption The Scottish secretary faced protests from anti-austerity campaigners

Mr Arkless said the notice "drew a line under the issue".

"We have accepted that ruling and have moved on," he said.

"We must remember my complaint only related to the minimal notice of the visit I was given. Much as I may not like it, Mr Mundell is free to 'celebrate' the opening of a foodbank wherever he wishes.

"Less than an hour's notice may not have broken House of Commons rules but I will ensure if the roles are ever reversed and I attend an engagement in Mr Mundell's constituency, that I will give plenty of notice."

A spokesman for Mr Mundell said: "The cabinet secretary wrote to Mr Arkless months ago saying there was no breach."

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