Read Amendment in Full: Tory MPs Launch Coup Against Standards Committee

It looks like fireworks are set to arrive in Parliament two days early this year, after Tory MPs, Whips and No. 10 announced a surprise assault on the existing MPs’ Standards Committee; arguing it’s “biased against Tories and Brexiteers”, with rulings becoming inconsistent. The standing order battle comes as Tory MPs attempt to block the Standards Committee’s 30-day suspension recommendation of Owen Paterson following a lobbying investigation.

While one amendment (B) to the motion this afternoon merely calls for Paterson’s suspension to be scrapped on compassionate grounds – following the suicide of his wife – Amendment A, published in full this morning, calls for a tearing up the whole Standards Committee system as it currently stands. The amendment is backed by at least 59 MPs…

The amendment sets out proposals for a new Standards Committee structure, involving eight backbench MPs in proportional make-up of the parties – four Conservative, three Labour and one SNP – with John Whittingdale as chair being given the deciding vote. The opposition parties are accusing the government of attempting to mark their own homework. Jon Ashworth has noted on Twitter “A fish rots from the head down”…

Guido is not convinced this is a good idea at all. Ten years after the expenses scandal, MPs are set on the neutralising of the checks on MPs’ misbehaviour. IPSA and the Standards Commissioner are slowly yet surely undergoing regulatory recapture by MPs. It will end badly…

On the Today Programme, Sir Bernard Jenkin – a backer of Amendment A – argues “We have had a bad system for years and years. This is an opportunity to fix it. We are not letting Owen Paterson off the hook.” Guido is more sympathetic to the suspension being suspended on exceptional compassionate grounds. In the end this row may all be for nothing – Sir Lindsay has to pick the amendment first…

Read the amendment and list of signatories in full:

COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS – Up to 90 minutes

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg

That this House–

  1. approves the Third Report of the Committee on Standards (HC 797);
  2. endorses the recommendation in paragraph 212; and
  3. accordingly suspends Mr Owen Paterson from the service of the House for a period of thirty sitting days.

Amendment (a)

  • Andrea Leadsom
  • Sir Bernard Jenkin
  • Robert Halfon
  • Richard Drax
  • Anne Marie Morris
  • Dr Jamie Wallis

Bob Stewart, Gary Sambrook, Duncan Baker, Damian Green, Mr David Jones, Mrs Pauline Latham, Julian Sturdy, John Howell, Mr Richard Bacon, James Gray, Mr Laurence Robertson, Sir Robert Neill, Craig Mackinlay, Mark Menzies, Philip Dunne, Shailesh Vara, Sir Robert Syms, Dr Liam Fox, Sir Roger Gale, Dehenna Davison, Derek Thomas, Julian Knight, Jeremy Hunt, Sir Paul Beresford, Mrs Sheryll Murray, David Morris, Mr Andrew Mitchell, Crispin Blunt, Sir William Cash, Simon Baynes, Robert Buckland, Sir Desmond Swayne, Lee Anderson, Chris Grayling, Huw Merriman, Ms Nusrat Ghani, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Caroline Dinenage,  James Duddridge, Mr Mark Francois, Jake Berry, Chris Green, Sir Graham Brady, Sir Edward Leigh, Karl McCartney, Ben Bradley, Greg Smith, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Bob Blackman, Steve Brine, Fiona Bruce, Neil Parish, Sir Greg Knight.

Line 1, leave out from “House” to the end and insert:

  1. “notes the Third Report of the Committee on Standards (HC 797);
  2. notes concerns expressed about potential defects in the standards system and therefore declines to consider the report at this time;
  3. and resolves:
    • that a Select Committee be appointed to consider and make recommendations by 3 February 2022 on the following matters:
      • whether the current standards system should give Members of Parliament the same or similar rights as apply to those subject to investigations of alleged misconduct in other workplaces and professions, including the right of representation, examination of witnesses and appeal;
      • the extent to which the procedures under Standing Order Nos 149, 149(A) and 150 should be made consistent with the principles of natural justice;
      • whether the case against Mr Owen Paterson should be reviewed or whether the Third Report of the Committee on Standards (HC 797) should be reconsidered by the House;
      • and such other matters as appear to the Committee to be connected with the matters set out above, and calls on the Government to bring forward a motion to give effect to any recommendations of the Committee within five sitting days of the publication of the Committee’s report;
    • That the Committee consist of nine Members;
    • That Mr John Whittingdale be Chair of the Committee and be given a casting vote in the event of a tie;
    • That the Committee shall consist of eight other backbench members; to be nominated by parties in the proportion of four Conservative, three Labour and one SNP; nominations shall be submitted to the Committee of Selection no later than 15 November, after that date motions for nomination can be made notwithstanding any gaps in membership, and any motion made in the House on behalf of the Committee of Selection by the Chair or another member of the Committee shall be treated as having been made in pursuance of Standing Order No.121(2) for the purposes of Standing Order No.15(1)(c);
    • That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House; to adjourn from place to place, to report from time to time, to appoint legal advisers, and to appoint specialist advisers either to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the Committee’s order of reference.”
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