Rugby MP Mark Pawsey says he did nothing wrong when praising the e-cigarette industry during Prime Minister’s Questions - after a vaping company paid for him to attend a Rugby World Cup game.
Mr Pawsey enjoyed a hospitality package during the Rugby World Cup in September and the £1,600 bill was paid for by Japan Tobacco International (JTI). JTI is the owner of E-Lites, one of the leading brands of e-cigarette in the UK.
Last week, Mr Pawsey asked a question in the House of Commons relating to people ‘kicking the smoking habit for good’ and referred to the role e-cigarettes can play in the quitting process.
Mr Pawsey logged the gift on the Register of Members’ Interests but Commons rules state Members must declare any “relevant pecuniary interest or benefit of whatever nature” verbally before asking questions in the House.
Mr Pawsey has faced criticism from some national newspapers for failing to verbally declare the gift before speaking during PMQs.
Mr Pawsey said: “I first became interested in e-cigarettes after being contacted by a local business here in Rugby who were worried about impending European legislation and the threat it posed to the industry.
“Soon after that meeting I established the All Party Parliamentary Group for e-cigarettes, and it was in this capacity that I raised the role that e-cigarettes can play in helping people quit smoking during questions to the Prime Minister last week. My question referred to ‘helping people kick the smoking habit for good’ and it is clear that e-cigarettes have been very effective in helping many people quit smoking.”
Speaking of the World Cup-related gift, Mr Pawsey said: “As the MP for the town where the game began, it was a great honour to be the Parliamentary Ambassador for the Rugby World Cup this year.
“I was fortunate to be invited to attend a match during the tournament and I have declared it transparently on the Parliamentary website.”