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Government makes U-turn over anti-sleaze rules for MPs amid major backlash
4 November 2021, 10:58 | Updated: 4 November 2021, 11:24
The government performed a climbdown today and will go back to the drawing board over plans to change the way MPs' behaviour is scrutinised amid growing public outrage.
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MPs voted to prevent the suspension of Tory Owen Paterson last night. But the system they voted for is "unviable," and the planned reforms were ditched in a dramatic U-turn today.
It means MP Owen Paterson will still face a 30-day suspension after he was found by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to have lobbied ministers and officials for two companies.
A government source told LBC: “We need a solution on finding an appeal system but the committee as voted for yesterday is unviable.”
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would seek "cross-party" changes to the system after Labour and other opposition parties refused to take part in a "corrupt committee".
And he suggested any changes may not "apply retrospectively" after the Government came under intense criticism for blocking Owen Paterson's immediate suspension.
Mr Rees-Mogg's announcement to MPs came as an ethics adviser to the Prime Minister described Wednesday's votes as a "very serious and damaging moment for Parliament".
Lord Evans, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said plans for a Tory-led review into the disciplinary process for MPs as being "deeply at odds with the best traditions of British democracy".
The Commons Leader recognised that standards must be reformed on a cross-party basis as he acknowledged "that is clearly not the case" with the Government's proposals.
"While there is a very strong feeling on both sides of the House that there is a need for an appeals process, there is equally a strong feeling that this should not be based on a single case or apply retrospectively," Mr Rees-Mogg said.
"I fear last night's debate conflated an individual case with the general concern. This link needs to be broken.
"Therefore I and others will be looking to work on a cross-party basis to achieve improvements in our system for future cases. We will bring forward more detailed proposals once there have been cross-party discussions."