The Conservative MP David Duguid failed to declare his wife’s £50,000 shareholding in BP while speaking in debates about windfall taxes on the oil and gas industry, the parliamentary commissioner has found.
The parliamentary commissioner for standards carried out an investigation into the MP for Banff and Buchan and former Scotland Office minister after the Guardian revealed Duguid’s wife’s shareholdings.
Parliamentary rules require MPs to declare while speaking in debates the financial interests of a spouse or other family member, where there could be considered a conflict. MPs have to register shares they own worth £70,000 or more than 15%, and any other interests that might “reasonably be thought by others to influence a member’s actions”. Duguid has never disclosed his wife’s financial interest in the House of Commons register.
The Guardian’s analysis of BP’s share register suggested Duguid, who worked for 25 years in the oil and gas industry, including 10 years with BP, had moved his shares into his wife’s name five years before his election as an MP.
The commissioner found three debates in 2023 in which Duguid ought to have declared an interest, noting that in these debates the shareholding “might reasonably be thought by others to influence [his] words or actions as a member”.
Duguid told the commissioner that he did not believe “anything I could have, let alone actually, said or did as a member of parliament could have had any bearing on the BP share price”.
The commissioner decided that Duguid’s repeated failures to declare the interest were “inadvertent” and the result of a misunderstanding about the rules. The commissioner required Duguid to apologise and to attend training on the parliamentary rules on declaration of interests.
Tom Brake, the director of Unlock Democracy, said: “The commissioner has underlined the importance of transparency when participating in debates, not just in relation to financial matters that require registration by MPs, but also a broader range of interests, such as sizeable shareholdings held by a family member.
“Both MPs and the public will benefit from this ruling. It promotes greater openness and more effective scrutiny.”
In January, prior to the conclusion of the investigation, Duguid spoke in a debate on the expansion of offshore oil and gas licences.
He acknowledged for the first time in parliament his wife’s shares in BP, saying he wanted to note “in the interests of transparency” that he has a “close family member who has a financial interest in that industry, although I feel keen to point out that that interest is below the threshold required for registering interests”.
He added: “I can also assure the house that that interest has never had any bearing, and will not have any bearing, on my contributions in this place.”