Thank you to those who took the time to contact me about Owen Paterson, the Committee on Standards and MPs having second jobs.
I do appreciate that some of my constituents have strong feelings on these matters. I have taken note of your comments and would like to outline my position on these matters.
First, I firmly believe it is essential that all in Parliament uphold the highest standards in public life. There must be tough and robust checks on Members to ensure they adhere to these standards. It is therefore important that there must be an effective process to scrutinise members and, if necessary, to discipline those who deviate from these principles.
Having been here for more than 6 years I can also assure you that most members on both sides of the chamber not only work immensely hard, but also take their professional responsibilities as an MP incredibly seriously and would never want to break any of the rules we all signed up to when we became MPs.
While I maintain that the work of the Committee on Standards is vital, there is strong feeling on both sides of the House that reform is needed and especially more work needs to be done around appeals. I welcome that the Government will be looking to work on a cross-party basis to achieve improvements in our system for future cases. It has now been made clear that this should not be based on a single case or applied retrospectively. I also welcome that the Chairman of the Standards Committee recently announced that the Committee will consult senior judicial figures to examine how the standards process might be improved, which may help address many Members' concerns about the process.
Ministers will bring forward more detailed plans once there have been cross-party discussions.
I certainly believe that an MP’s primary job is and must be to serve their constituents and represent their interests in parliament – and I know the Prime Minister shares this view too. The Prime Minister has now written to the Speaker proposing changes to the Code of Conduct for MPs such that any MP who prioritises outside interests over their constituents are investigated and appropriately punished. Secondly, he has also asked for a ban on MPs acting as paid political consultants or lobbyist to be considered so that the House of Commons continues to command the interests of the public. We need to look carefully at how we enforce these rules, but I share the view of my constituents that this is an issue we need to address.
I hope the above reassures you of my support in reforming the system so that we maintain a high level of scrutiny and transparency in Parliament, and thank you again to those who shared their views and concerns with me.