Brokenshire’s Defence of Sir Roger Scruton

The Government have come out batting for Sir Roger Scruton. Guido welcomes their rare backbone sticking up for a good appointment, and standing up to a baying twitter mob.

UPDATE: Jacob Rees-Mogg makes the point that while Scruton was busy standing up for free speech and democracy in the Soviet Union, several Labour MPs – including some Gwynne now sits alongside on the Labour frontbench – were more interested in sympathising with the oppressive communist regime…

 

Lib Dem Lord Lester Set For Record-Breaking Suspension For Sexual Harassment

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester is set for a record-breaking suspension from the House of Lords after Lords’ Privileges and Conduct Committee recommended that he be suspended for three and a half years until June 2022 for sexual harassment and “corrupt inducement” to sexual relations. It will be the longest Parliamentary suspension since the Second World War…

Lester was forced to resign as a Lib Dem spokesman after allegations that he had demanded sex from a female campaigner in return for help to pass legislation. The investigation upheld the complaint “on the basis of the strong and cogent evidence of the complainant and her witnesses.” The fact that it happened 10 years ago was not used as an excuse not to pursue the investigation…

MPs’ Commons Sense Reminder

Tory Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher has emailed all Tory MPs urging them to use a bit of common sense when it comes to media organisations conducting surveys of Parliament. Labour MPs have also received a similar email. Spoilsports…

h/t Sam Coates 

UPDATE: A co-conspirator gets in touch to reveal that the whips’ advice was sent out in response to a mass email from the Telegraph asking about how many surgeries MPs held in October and how many people came to them. Have any MPs inadvertently revealed that they’ve been slacking?

Bercow Uses Personal Veto to Block Vaz Investigation

John Bercow has personally stepped in to stop a BBC investigation getting information about the behaviour of Keith Vaz. BBC Newsnight applied under the Freedom of Information Act to see papers relating to Vaz’s trips abroad, after clerks had raised concerns that he was not following parliamentary rules. In August the same programme revealed how Vaz himself had bullied former Commons clerk Jenny McCullough after she questioned his foreign trip expenses.

Bercow argued that administration of committee trips should be covered under parliamentary privilege, and then extraordinarily blocked the matter going to tribunal, using a very unusual personal power to prevent a judge reviewing his argument. Because of this, unlike normal FoI procedure, Newsnight has no means to appeal his decision…

Newsnight’s Chris Cook sums up the extraordinary situation:

“The net result is that the Speaker, who denies bullying, has made an order to hide information about the behaviour of his close personal friend, Keith Vaz, a man who also denies bullying – supposedly to protect MPs’ freedom of speech.

And then he has gone out of his way to use a personal veto to make sure no-one could even consider reviewing that questionable decision.

Bercow will continue to get away with it as long as he is protected by MPs who prioritise his anti-Brexit views over safeguarding and transparency…

Commons Staff Furious at Bullying Inquiry “Stitch-Up”

Commons staff have reacted with fury to the news that the new independent inquiry into Parliamentary bullying specifically rules out taking any action on individual cases. Incredulous staff received a letter from Gemma White QC this morning, informing them that:

“The Inquiry will not reopen past complaints of bullying or harassment or investigate new ones against particular individuals. Nor will it reach conclusions or make recommendations on any individual case.”

One angry researcher called it a “classic Bercow stitch-up”. Of course, an independent inquiry into Parliamentary bullying has already taken place – the Cox Inquiry – and did point the finger of blame at specific individuals, including the Speaker. The whitewash announced today makes a mockery of Parliament’s claims to be taking the issue seriously…

Ishmael Osamor Should Not Be Fired for Drug Conviction

Shadow International Development Secretary Kate Osamor is under increasing pressure after her son Ishmael was convicted of possessing Class A drugs including cocaine and ketamine. A Tory MP has reported her to Parliament’s standards watchdog over her son Ishmael’s drugs arrest – he works for his mother as a communications officer where he spends his day blocking people on Twitter.

Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has written to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone: “I am writing to request that you launch an investigation into the behaviour of Kate Osamor for breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct” – on the grounds that her employment of him brings the integrity of Parliament into disrepute. Which is a bit much when corrupt Keith Vaz still sits on the green benches without a blush, despite trying to procure cocaine for male prostitutes.

Trevelyan is visiting the sins of the son on the mother. Ishmael has been tried and found guilty and given a two-month community order and 20 days of rehabilitation. He resigned as a councillor in Haringey last week. So he has already had an additional punishment.

Whether an MP should be employing a family member on public money is something that is open to question – Guido thinks not – hundreds of MPs do and it is unfortunately within the rules. It seems though a bit much for MPs to demand an extra-judicial punishment on top of what the judge gave him. Making him unemployed won’t help his rehabilitation. Worse than that though, formally censuring a mother for standing by her son is pathetic…

Was Hain Allowed to Use Parliamentary Privilege to Break Philip Green Injunction?

Peter Hain has heavily defended his use of Parliamentary Privilege to name Philip Green as the businessman behind the injunction against the Telegraph. But was he even allowed to do so?

Under a resolution on Parliamentary Privilege which the House of Lords adopted on 11 May 2000, Peers cannot use their Parliamentary Privilege to refer to any cases which are currently Sub judice – i.e. undergoing active legal proceedings – unless they have secured the approval of the Lords Speaker to do so at least 24 hours in advance. It also stipulates that “the exercise of the Speaker’s discretion may not be challenged in the House.” Did Hain seek formal approval from Lord Fowler in advance?

Additionally, the resolution sets out that the Lords Speaker should only grant permission for the Sub judice rule to be waived when, in their opinion, “a case concerns national importance such as the economy, public order or the essential services”. It may have covered the front pages but it is hard to argue that the Green case fell into any of these categories…

PMQs: Trick or Treat?

Theresa nervously twitched the curtains. Would it be trick or treat for her today? Kids these days were getting awfully greedy, although Phil had given her a large stash of sweets earlier this week. Hopefully that would be enough to keep them happy. There came a knock at the door. She cautiously opened it up. It was Mark from the Forest of Dean. Nice Mark just wanted to tell her how delicious Phil’s sweets were. She agreed, they certainly were! Hopefully everyone else will be just as polite, she thought…

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Corbyn Walks Right Into PMQs Trap

Jeremy Corbyn has got somewhat better at PMQs compared to his early attempts back in those heady days of 2015, but his improvement didn’t stretch to spotting the obvious trap of mentioning Hammond’s tax cuts. May was well prepared to hit back at the Labour Party’s flip flopping on the issue. Amateur hour…

Prime Minister’s Saucy Banter

“The Member for Wellingborough might well like the hot English Brexit sauce to put on his breakfast sausages”

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 31 October.
Q2 Teresa Pearce (Erith and Thamesmead) (Labour)
Q3 Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Labour)
Q4 Mr Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Conservative)
Q5 Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Labour)
Q6 Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd) (Labour)
Q7 Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) (Labour)
Q8 Stewart Hosie (Dundee East) (SNP)
Q9 Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Labour)
Q10 Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Conservative)
Q11 Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Conservative)
Q12 Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) (Conservative)
Q13 Sir David Crausby (Bolton North East) (Labour)
Q14 Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP)
Q15 Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Labour)

Comments in the comments…

Commons Clerk Torpedoes Remainers’ Brexit Sabotage Hopes

Commons Clerk David Natzler has torpedoed the wishful thinking of Dominic Grieve and others that they will be able to use motions in the House of Commons to force the Government into any particular course of action on Brexit, be it preventing no deal, extending Article 50 or forcing a second referendum. Natzler confirmed that the Government would have no legal obligation to follow any such motions. Remainers can pass as many motions as they like but none of them will stop Brexit…

As ever, the Government can only be bound by statute – although this does mean the Government is still vulnerable to amendments to primary legislation. Natzler also didn’t have a view on what would happen if the Meaningful Vote motion itself was amended, saying it would be a question for the lawyers. Brexit not entirely out of the woods yet…

Nokes Gets Narky With Cooper

It’s fair to say that Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes was less than impressed with her Home Affairs Select Committee appearance overrunning by 45 minutes, leading to a tetchy exchange with chair Yvette Cooper. Stephen Doughty chipping in with “tough luck, Minister” probably didn’t help the mood either…

McDonnell v Corbyn on Tax Cuts


Labour haven’t quite worked out what their line is on the perennially popular idea of letting people keep more of their own money.

“We wouldn’t reverse” versus “ideological tax cuts.”

Corbyn didn’t really know how to respond yesterday and just blurted out his usual slogans and soundbites…

Liz’s Lap Dance

The Commons erupts with cheers as Liz Truss can’t find a seat on the front bench for the Budget Statement and ends up sitting on Sajid Javid’s knee. Not the first time she’s sat on another MP’s lap…

PMQs: Jeremy’s Book Club

Jeremy was in a bad mood. He hadn’t had enough sleep, and Seumas had forced him to spend all morning reading something about Derby Council. Worst of all, it was Theresa’s turn to choose the book this week. She had probably picked some boring self-help book about leadership. He really just wanted to read through the latest copy of Allotment Gardeners Monthly and yet he was forced to turn up and pretend to be interested in other people’s books every week.

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Calamity Karen’s Cup Kerfuffle

Northern Ireland Secretary Calamity Karen had a spot of bother spilling her glass of water across the table. Thankfully Shadow Northern Ireland Minister Stephen Pound was on hand with a tissue to squeeze spilled water back into the glass. Yum. Water calamity! 

“She Doesn’t Know If She’s Going to be PM Next Week”

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones delivered a cutting prelude to her PMQ today.

“The Prime Minister has already said she doesn’t know what’s in next week’s budget, although she doesn’t know if she’s going to be Prime Minister next week perhaps that’s not a surprise…”

After the jibe it looks like the PM has to ask the Chancellor why everyone is laughing and raucous. When he tells her she makes a dismissive face. Ouch.

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Mr Paul Sweeney (Glasgow North East) (Labour) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 24 October.
Q2 Sir David Amess (Southend West) (Conservative)
Q3 Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Conservative)
Q4 Gordon Marsden (Blackpool South) (Labour)
Q5 Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
Q6 Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley) (Labour)
Q7 Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Conservative)
Q8 Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
Q9 Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (Lib Dem)
Q10 Paul Masterton (East Renfrewshire) (Conservative)
Q11 David T. C. Davies (Monmouth) (Conservative)
Q12 Judith Cummins (Bradford South) (Labour)
Q13 Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) (Labour)
Q14 Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Labour)

Comments in the comments…

Kinnock’s Insurance Slip Up

Labour’s Stephen Kinnock made himself look a bit silly in the Commons yesterday, as he implied he had never taken out an insurance policy before.

Kinnock: The backstop is an insurance policy. Can the Prime Minister give us an example of any insurance policy she has ever seen or signed up to that was based on an expiry date?

[…] Read the rest

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No prizes for guessing who Andrea Leadsom is talking about:

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