CAROLINE LUCAS breached House of Commons rules by offering tours of Parliament in exchange for money.

The Standards Commissioner concluded the Green Brighton Pavilion MP breached Code of Conduct rules in offering the service for money in the 2019 General Election campaign.

Ms Lucas has apologised and promised not to do it again, which the commissioner has stated is an “appropriate outcome”.

The breach relates to a 2019 campaign fundraiser called “Put Caroline Lucas back in Parliament alongside more Green MPs”.

Those who donated money to the fundraiser were eligible for a number of “perks”.

People who paid £150 were eligible for a “personal guided tour of House of Commons” for 30 minutes.

The Commissioner’s report stated: “I understand that this has been reported in the local newspaper, the Brighton Argus.

“This article says that this is a personal guided tour if she is re-elected.

“I believe it inappropriate for her to be touting for donations using the facilities of the House of Commons as an inducement.

“This is also an unfair advantage over other election candidates.”

When questioned by The Argus about the breach in February, Ms Lucas said she did not believe she had done anything wrong.

However, following an investigation by the Commissioner, she acknowledged that in offering a paid-for tour of Parliament, she had breached the rules.

The commissioner’s report said: “I investigated the allegation that the Member had breached paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct for Members, by offering a guided tour of Parliament in an auction to raise funds for a political party.

“During my inquiry, I established that the Member had agreed to sell through a Crowdfunder site a personal tour of Parliament and a signed Order paper, to raise funds as part of her re-election campaign.

“My investigation established that the Member had, on her return to Parliament after the election, hosted a tour of Parliament, which had been paid for via an online fundraising campaign. I found that in doing so the Member had acted in breach of the rules. The Member acknowledged their breach, apologised and undertook not to repeat it.”

The report also shows that Ms Lucas told the Commissioner that she would be speaking to them as the case had been “covered extensively in the media".

Investigations into the conduct of MPs are normally not made public until the matter is resolved.

However The Argus discovered Ms Lucas was under investigation after the Commissioner told a Hove resident in a letter exchange about the issue.

Tours around the houses from a “knowledgeable guide” can be bought for £26.50. However, people can book a free guided tour by contacting their MP or a member of the House of Lords.

The Code of Conduct and related rules of the House state: “Members are reminded that the rules of the House apply to any tours which they or their office arrange, and that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards may investigate if there is sufficient evidence of a breach of the rules. Members must not offer tours of the House or of the Elizabeth Tower or Big Ben in raffles or auctions.

“Members are reminded that tours on the Parliamentary estate which would otherwise be available at nil cost (for example, public tours of the Visitor Route) should under no circumstances be offered as raffle or auction prizes.”

In response, Caroline has issued the following statement: "I have today written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to accept the outcome of her investigation and apologise for an inadvertent breach of the Code of Conduct.

"In order to raise funds for my local party in the recent General Election Campaign, I made an offer on a Crowdfunding site of a personal tour of those areas of Parliament which are special to me.  

"When I did so, I did not believe I was breaking parliamentary rules, which I had interpreted to mean that what was prohibited was offering something that was otherwise “freely available.” 

"I did not believe such a personal tour was 'freely available'.

"However, the Commissioner has ruled that this was a breach of the Code of Conduct and I accept her decision.

"I would like to apologise for this completely unintentional breach of the rules. 

"The Green Party has returned the money to the supporter who made the donation."