MPs have voted to support a controversial review of disciplinary proceedings, which has resulted in a Conservative MP avoiding suspension after violating lobbying rules.
Owen Paterson has avoided punishment, despite being found to have committed a “cruel” violation of the rules.
Boris Johnson urged the Conservatives not to support the cross-party standard committee’s call for a six-week ban from the North Shropshire MP who appeared to have repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials on behalf of two companies paying him more than £ 100,000 pr. year.
Instead, MPs supported an amendment calling for a review of his case, which will be carried out by a Tory majority committee.
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Ministers had put the Tories under a three-line whip to support the amendment, tabled by former Commons leader Dame Andrea Leadsom, according to a senior Conservative MP.
Opposition MPs blew up the vote as a “grubby conglomerate” calling the Tories “rotten to the core”, while the FDA accused the government of trying to “feel its own homework”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said the move was “corruption”.
MEPs voted 250 to 232 – a majority of 18 – to approve the amendment to consider reforming the standard parliamentary system, preventing the immediate suspension of Mr Paterson.
“Shame” and “what have you done about this place” were shouted when the results of the vote were declared.
Each Labor MP, as well as the Liberal Democrats and SNP, voted against the move, while 13 Tory MPs voted against the government whip and 98 abstained.
Stockport MP William Wragg was one of the Conservative MPs who voted against the move.
You can find out how your MP voted using the widget below.
A study by Kathryn Stone, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, found that Mr Paterson repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials on behalf of Randox and Lynn’s Country Foods.
The Commons Standards Committee said his actions were a “cruel” breach of the rules on paid advocacy by MPs and recommended that he be suspended for 30 days.
But Mr Paterson accused the commissioner of making a decision before she even spoke to him, calling the process “biased” and “not fair”.
The MP also said the way the investigation was conducted “undoubtedly” had played a “major role” in his wife Rose’s decision to take her own life last year.
In addition to reviewing Mr Paterson’s case, the amendment calls for the committee, which will be chaired by former Secretary of Culture John Whittingdale, to conduct a study on the standard system.
It would look at whether MPs should be given similar rights as those offered in other disputes in the workplace, such as “the right to representation, questioning of witnesses and appeal”.
Paterson has said today’s vote will allow him to clear his name after “two years of hell”, but anti-corruption activists, trade unions, political observers and opposition MPs have condemned the move.
Sir Keir, writes in The Guardian, said that “the council starts at the top” and “we have a prime minister whose name is synonymous with naughty, risky deals and hypocrisy”.
A spokeswoman for Labor leader Angela Rayner said it was “absurd” that the amendment bill was being discussed at all, calling the situation a “grubby collusion”.
“The Prime Minister did not deny that Owen Paterson broke the rules. He does not reject any of the contents of the report,” the spokesman said.
“Angela, like all Members of Parliament, wants to ensure that the standard process is rigorous and effective. However, it is completely separate from the problem at stake today, which is very simple and is not about making the system more efficient or anything. in that direction.
“It is based solely on a Conservative government seeking to use its majority in the Commons to overturn the results of an independent cross-party committee.
“Hopefully enough Conservative MPs will see the point.”
Labor’s shadow justice minister David Lammy said the government was “tearing up their contract with the British people”.
He tweeted: “This vote is rotten to the core. The Tories believe rules are something only small people should follow, not them.”
Mrs Rayner said Labor “would not take part in this false process or any corrupt committee”, while the Liberal Democrats said they would also boycott the new standard committee.
Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said it was a “shameful day”. She tweeted: “MPs should be held to account. When an independent process finds out that huge sums were taken to lobby, it is corruption, simple.”
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA, which represents senior officials, said: “Clearly, members of Congress are more concerned about protecting one of their own instead of following their code of conduct and maintaining standards.
“The vicious and orchestrated campaign of personal attacks on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards – a public servant who cannot respond – is completely unacceptable.”
He said MPs “again try to mark their own homework and move the goal posts after the event”.
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After the Commons vote, Mr Paterson said: “The process I was subjected to was not in line with natural justice.
“No proper inquiry was made into the Commissioner or the Committee.
“The standard commissioner has admitted that she has made up her mind before speaking to me or any witnesses.
“All I have ever asked for is the opportunity to lead my case through a fair trial.
»The decision in the Folketing today means that I now have that opportunity.
“After two years of hell, I now have the opportunity to clear my name.
“I am extremely grateful to the Prime Minister, the President of Parliament and my colleagues for ensuring that fundamental changes are made to the internal parliamentary legal systems.
“I hope that no other Member of Parliament will ever again be subjected to this shockingly inadequate process.”
The MP could have faced a possible by-election if the suspension had been approved.
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