Jacob Rees-Mogg slams 'nonsense' response from Neil Coyle
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The leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg hit out at Neil Coyle for his argument to have Conservative MP Owen Paterson suspended after he was found to have committed an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules. Mr Coyle said: “Under his Government, an MP can be found guilty of sexual harassment and can retain the Conservative whip, can oversee law and order and keep the job of Home Secretary and be found guilty of bullying, can break Covid rules and be Health Secretary, can break the law and be leader of the house.
“Why should we be at all surprised that the return casts the question of Tory sleaze?”
Mr Rees-Mogg responded: “It seems to me these admirably non-partisan socialists can talk a lot of nonsense and not have to correct the record later.”
MPs have since voted for a Government-backed bid to consider an overhaul of their disciplinary process and prevent the immediate suspension.In an unprecedented move, they chose not to back the cross-party Standards Committee’s call for a six-week ban from Parliament for Owen Paterson after it was ruled that he repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year.
Instead the House of Commons backed a Tory amendment calling for a review of his case after Conservative MPs were ordered to support the bid and Boris Johnson questioned whether the investigation into Mr Paterson was fair as his party was accused of “wallowing in sleaze”.
The MP for North Shropshire, who angrily denied the findings against him, could have faced recall proceedings that may have triggered a by-election if the recommended six-week suspension had been approved.
Ministers had placed Tories under a three-line whip to support the amendment tabled by former Commons leader Dame Andrea Leadsom, a senior Conservative MP told the PA news agency.
There were shouts of “shame” and “what have you done to this place” from the oppositions MPs as the House voted 250 to 232, majority 18, to approve the amendment.
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Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner accused the Tories of being “rotten to the core” after the “absolute disgrace”.
As well as reviewing Mr Paterson’s case, the amendment calls for a Conservative-majority committee led by former culture secretary John Whittingdale to examine the standards system.
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone recommended a ban from the Commons of 30 sitting days for Mr Paterson in a report approved by the Standards Committee.
Ms Stone’s investigation found he repeatedly lobbied on behalf of two companies for which he was acting as a paid consultant – Randox and Lynn’s Country Foods.
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Mr Paterson claimed the investigation was unfairly conducted and argued the manner in which it was carried out had played a “major role” in his wife Rose’s suicide last year.
The Prime Minister said paid lobbying in the Commons “is wrong” and those “who are found guilty of that should apologise and pay the necessary penalties”.
“But that is not the issue in this case or this vote that is before us,” he added to MPs.
“The issue in this case, which involved a serious family tragedy, is whether a member of this House had a fair opportunity to make representations in this case and whether, as a matter of natural justice, our procedures in this House allow for proper appeal.”
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