MP facing inquiry over opinion poll funding

PUBLISHED: 10:04 23 June 2014

Tessa Munt

Tessa Munt

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A SOMERSET MP is facing a parliamentary inquiry amid claims she failed to declare expensive opinion polling undertaken in her constituency.

It follows a complaint made by the Political Scrapbook website against Wells MP Tessa Munt - whose constituency includes areas like Cheddar and Burnham - relating to Somerset polling thought to have cost thousands of pounds.

The research was funded by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott, and questions have been raised over whether it should have been declared on the register of members’ interests.

Ms Munt, the parliamentary private secretary to Business Secretary Vince Cable, said she was aware that a complaint had been made that the costs of the poll had not been registered.

Between April 11-18, 500 adults in her constituency were asked at random for their opinion on Ms Munt’s performance in office, their voting intentions for the next General Election and whether installing Dr Cable as party leader would influence their decision.

A Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards spokesman confirmed to the Mercury an investigation had begun.

LibDem Ms Munt said in a statement: “A complaint has been made that I did not declare the costs of a poll commissioned by Matthew Oakeshott. The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner must now investigate the matter.

“I have spoken to the official dealing with the matter today and await her letter outlining the situation.”

Dr Cable confirmed last month he and Lord Oakeshott discussed the outcome of the local polling with Ms Munt, which Political Scrapbook alleges would have most likely been passed to her campaign manager.

The research found 71 per cent of respondents thought Ms Munt was doing a ‘good job’ as MP, although only 55 per cent could name her when asked.

Parliamentary rules state donations of over £1,500 ‘linked either to candidacy at an election or to membership of the house’ should be declared publicly.

No timescale has been set for the investigation to reach its conclusion. Dr Cable is also being investigated after polling was undertaken in his Twickenham 
constituency.

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