Justin Tomlinson MP Facing Suspension From Parliament For Leaking Payday Loan Report To Wonga Employee
A former DWP minister with responsibility for disabled people is set to be suspended from the House of Commons for leaking a parliamentary report to a payday lender.
Justin Tomlinson shared the findings of a draft report into regulating payday loans with an employee of Wonga.
An inquiry by the House of Commons sleaze watchdog found the former minister, who sat on the Public Accounts Committee at the time of the leak, had “committed a contempt” with the leak.
It said his actions “constituted substantial interference” with the process of the influential Committee, which was seeking to protect vulnerable consumers from payday lenders.
The report, which will be debated and voted on, recommended that Mr Tomlinson be suspended from the Commons for two days and be compelled to make a statement to the House.
At the time of the report the then PAC chair Margaret Hodge at the time accused part of the payday loans industry of “disgraceful practices” and said existing rules had been ineffective.
Research by the charity Scope has found that people with disabilities are significantly more likely to turn to payday loans than people without them.
18 per cent of people with disabilities have used so-called ‘high cost’ lending compared with 5 per cent of non-disabled people, according to that study.
Mr Tomlinson has previously apologised and accepted that he had broken the rules.
The MP was sacked as disability minister in July’s reshuffle by Theresa May and has not been given another job in the Government.
In a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday morning he said that he sent the report to the payday loan company because he believed action needed to be taken on payday loan companies.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to make a full and unreserved apology to you and to the House,” he told the Speaker.
“I completely accept the findings of the report published today by the privileges committee and the report submitted by the committee for standard.
“I accept that my actions in sharing the report constitute and interference in the work of the committee for public accounts and for this I am sorry.
“This was never my intention. These actions came as a result of my own naivity driven as a desire to strengthen regulations on payday lenders and protect vulnerable consumers.
“The Commissioner for standards confirm this as my motivation based on evidence that I have worked on cross party campaigns to protect consuemrs and that I have long argued for tighter regulation of the payday lending industry.
“I welcome the report’s conclusion that my actions were not motivated by financial gain and the report states that I did not act in the way I did either for financial gain nor with the intention of reflecting the views of the company concerned.
“I also appreciate the acknowledgement that the national newspaper story following the start of the campaign was substantiated.”
The Speaker replied: “I thank the honourable gentleman for what he said and the way he said it. The matter rests there, that’s the end of it.”