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SLEAZE ROW: MPs to vote on Owen Paterson censure motion

SLEAZE ROW: MPs to vote on Owen Paterson censure motion

Undated UK Parliament file photo of Christopher Chope. Boris Johnson's attempt to move on from sleaze allegations battering the Conservatives was thrown into disarray when a Tory MP blocked a bid to endorse the investigation into Owen Paterson and scrap the controversial standards reforms. Veteran Conservative Chope shouted "object" in the Commons chamber when the motion to overturn the widely criticised attempt was put forward, meaning it could not be approved on Monday evening. Issue date: Tuesday November 16, 2021.

 

SLEAZE ROW: Boris Johnson will finally seek to draw a line under the Owen Paterson row as MPs vote to censure the former minister on Tuesday.

An attempt to quietly endorse the Commons standards watchdog’s report on the former Cabinet minister’s “egregious” breach of lobbying rules was foiled on Monday night as veteran Tory Sir Christopher Chope objected to the move.

The motion, which implements a Government U-turn over the Paterson row, will now be subject to a debate and vote in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon.

The vote is aimed at rescinding the so-called Leadsom amendment, which looked to establish a review of the MP standards investigation process in a bid to delay Mr Paterson’s suspension for breaking lobbying rules.

It will also endorse the Commons Standards Committee’s report which would have suspended Mr Paterson from Parliament for 30 days if he had remained an MP.

He quit as the Conservative MP for North Shropshire after the Government backed down on its attempt to delay his suspension and reform the standards process.

The SNP’s shadow Commons leader Pete Wishart, who was in the chamber on Monday night, said there were metaphorical “daggers being flung backwards” at Sir Christopher by Government chief whip Mark Spencer after his objection to the attempt to settle the matter.

It is by no means the first time that Sir Christopher has controversially objected to Commons motions.

The Christchurch MP had previously used the move to block child protection proposals linked to female genital mutilation and a backbench Bill to make upskirting a criminal offence.

The former minister has previously defended his actions by saying measures should be debated rather than simply going through unopposed.

Meanwhile, former mandarins have urged the Prime Minister to strengthen the role of his independent adviser on ministers’ interests and the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

A letter to The Times was signed by five former cabinet secretaries from Lord Butler of Brockwell, who served under Margaret Thatcher in 1988, to Lord Sedwill, who left the civil service only last year.

They said the ministerial code “must be strictly enforced” but the system needs ways of recognising that “some breaches are more important than others”.

The former civil service chiefs said “we need all in positions of trust to set an example”.

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