Worthing MPs say Government made a mistake on standards review - ‘it was a car crash’

Worthing’s MPs believe the Government made a mistake on forcing a vote to revie standards rules.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 10:40 am
Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley speaking in the Commons on Monday

Plans to look at the system governing MPs’ conduct, after Owen Paterson had been found to have broken lobbying rules, were withdrawn last week after a huge outcry.

Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley, who is the Father of the House, thanked leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg for ‘acknowledging on Thursday that things had been done wrong and need putting right’.

He said yesterday (Monday November 8), it was clear the House ‘should have backed’ the standards committee and while others felt there was widespread support for reforming the system he is ‘not part of that support’.

Sir Peter added: “I believe the system does work, can work, and should work.”

Meanwhile on second jobs for politicians, he suggested an MP who declares outside earnings should do so not just in write, but face to face with the registrar.

He explained: “They should explain what they are doing, and could be reminded what the limits are of what they do. The one thing I would say to the face of my former colleague, Owen Paterson, is that if we take on a consultancy with a business, the one thing we know is that we cannot do anything that could be interpreted as lobbying or in the interests of that business.”

While Sir Peter was not involved in the vote last Wednesday, fellow Conservative East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton was one of those to back the Government’s plans.

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Live show, he also felt the government had ‘got it wrong’, adding: “Last week, frankly was a car crash and nobody comes out of it well,

“I think the government very quickly needs to explain what it’s going to do going forward and start to try and regain some of the trust that has been lost in politicians generally. It’s been bad for the government, bad for my party, but bad for Parliament and politicians generally.

“There are lots of angry Conservative backbenchers who were corralled into voting with the government, voting for an amendment which does not do what a lot of people think it actually did, but clearly should not have been linked between reform of the system, which needs reforming, and the specific case of Owen Paterson, which has been handled really badly.”

On being whipped, he added: “The government looks really silly, we are looking really silly for having done what we were asked to do, and we have got a by-election because Owen Paterson stood down, so it’s the worst of all worlds.”

He suggested Number 10 did not ‘understand how Parliament works’ and Boris Johnson ‘is not a House of Commons man in many respects’. The whips office also ‘lacks some old lags who know the system and can see problems like this coming down the tracks’.