Tue. Dec 7th, 2021


A British cabinet minister has backed a ban on MPs taking on advisory posts in addition to their role as MPs after the government was accused of presiding over a culture of “sleaze” and “corruption”.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, made the remarks ahead of an emergency debate Monday to discuss the “consequences” of a vote last week that the government was trying to reform of parliamentary procedures and overthrow the suspension of a former minister.

Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative party has blocked the 30-day suspension of Owen Paterson, who was found to have violated lobbying rules by an independent standard watchdog.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, announced a U-turn on the vote the next day, citing a lack of support between parties. Paterson, who resigned as MP last week, was found to be involved in “paid advocacy” on behalf of two companies.

MPs are allowed to take on other work as long as it is declared in accordance with the code of conduct. But they are forbidden to act as a “paid lawyer” – to take payment for speaking in the House, to ask a parliamentary question, to submit a motion or to introduce a bill affecting a company will benefit.

The Commons Standards Committee is now considering a move to ban MPs from accepting paid consultancy work, in addition to their role in the Commons.

Speaking on Sky News on Monday morning, Trevelyan expressed her support for such a ban, saying: “I think the issue of MPs having jobs that involve lobbying should perhaps be looked at again. But overall I do not think we need the ability to keep a second job does not remove, because it brings a wealth to our role as members of parliament. “

Chris Bryant, chairman of the standards committee, called on the government to stop “digging a hole” and stop trying to interfere with parliament’s independent system of standards.

Bryant, a prominent Labor MP, said Monday morning that Paterson had been given a “fair trial” and that Johnson should not have intervened to protect him. “I’m irritated that the government got its kind of sweaty gloves last week,” he told the BBC. Today program.

“All this was an attempt to basically inflate the entire standard system. So we have to choose both of these things. And I hope we will be able to do that, “he said.

“I’m sorry to be a stickler for parliamentary procedures, but that’s the only way you can make sure you have a proper process in parliament.”

Bryant, MP for Rhondda in the Welsh valleys, said Paterson was paid £ 110,000 a year by his two business clients, “which is more than the average cost of a house in my constituency”.

The Labor MP said some people wanted to replace the current system with “a very complicated legal thing judged by judges” and he said it would be problematic as it would lead to high legal costs. “The most important thing is that the government should stay out of it.”

Bryant said there was an attempt to “intimidate” independent standards commissioner Kathryn Stone, describing it as “morally offensive and wrong”. He added: “There was an attempt to sue me, which in itself is a violation of the rules.”

In the past week, a number of Labor MPs have repeatedly called for a more comprehensive ban on MPs taking second jobs, with the exception of those that require a certain amount of exercise to retain a license.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, a Labor MP, is currently an accident and emergency doctor along with her duties in the Commons. Another Labor MP, Nadia Whittome, worked as a caregiver during the pandemic.

The government faced further allegations of sleaze over the weekend, amid concerns over the Paterson case, the Conservatives’ use of the House of Lords honors system and renewed investigation into funding for the prime minister’s apartment renovation and holidays.

The government’s handling of standard reform has sparked outrage across the political spectrum, with a growing number of Tory MPs voicing their concerns. However, Johnson himself is not expected to attend Monday’s emergency debate. Rees-Mogg would rather respond on behalf of the government.



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