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Government Plans To "Unpick" Their Vote To Overhaul The Standards Committee Next Week

Government Plans To 'Unpick' Their Vote To Overhaul The Standards Committee Next Week

Boris Johnson is set to "unpick" his attempt to overhaul the standards committee

3 min read

MPs are set to get a vote next week on a motion that will overturn last week's controversial amendment on Standards, which led to furious backlash on both sides of the House of Commons.

The vote will also allow MPs to vote on the sanction against former Tory MP Owen Paterson while recognising he resigned last week so is no longer subject to suspension over allegations of improper lobbying. 

Ministers have expressed "regret" over their conflation of Standards reform with the Paterson case, which saw Tory MPs ordered to back a bid to overhaul the Commons Standards Committee and halt a proposed 30-day suspension of Paterson for "egregious" breaches of lobbying rules.

The plans would have also seen a new committee established and chaired by a Tory MP to create a new appeals decision.

The government later u-turned on the plans following major backlash and accusations of "sleaze". 

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister's spokesperson said a new motion would be laid to allow MPs a vote next week on Paterson's suspension.

"We recognise the strong views on this particular point and having listened to those again yesterday afternoon, we will table a motion tonight for next week to formalise the change of approach by unpicking the amendment."

The decision came after Labour MP and chair of the standards committee Chris Bryant said following the government admission they made a "mistake" over the plans that they had a duty to "tidy up what happened last week".

He welcomed the new motion set out by Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, saying it was "precisely" what he had asked the government to set out.

Speaking earlier today, Bryant also told MPs his committee would be commissioning a "senior judicial figure" to oversee any changes to the processes.

"As part of our review of the Code of Conduct and its operation we have decided today that we will be commissioning a senior judicial figure to advise us on possible changes to the process," he said.

"We have already taken advice today from Sir Steven Irwin, who is chair of the Independent expert panel.

"We believe that our present practises guarantee a fair hearing, but we will always consider suggestions for improvements."

 This morning the government faced frash "sleaze" allegations after The Mail reported that former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has earnt almost £900,000 for outside legal work. The work undertaken by the former Attorney General included helping defend the British Virgin Isles, a tax haven, against corruption charges, and the hours worked amounted to the equivalent of a full time job.

Johnson's spokesperson refused to comment directly on Cox, but said the "primary" role for MPs should be to work with constituents.

They said MPs "should be visible in constituencies and available to help our constituents with their constituency matters. 

"If they’re not doing that, they’re not doing their job and will rightly be judged on that by their constituents."

They added that Johnson would not support an "outright" ban on second jobs, suggesting that some secondary work, such as those working for lobbying consultancies, could see stricter rules.

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