Tuesday 30th November 2021
From the office of Anneliese Dodds MP, Chair of the Labour Party. For further information please contact email@example.com
Text of the SNP Motion to Censure Boris Johnson
That, this House censures the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, for frequently violating the sixth Principle of Public Life, for seeking to undermine the recommendations of the Standards Committee on Owen Paterson, for regularly ignoring independent advice on matters such as international treaties and breaches of the Ministerial Code by his ministers, for putting forward proposals to diminish the powers of the Electoral Commission, for ignoring independent advice concerning the granting of peerages to Conservative party donors and nominations to public bodies such as Ofcom; and further calls for his ministerial salary to be reduced by £41,567 per year.
- The Prime Minister thinks there’s one rule for him and his mates, and another rule for everyone else.
- He tried to change the standards rules to protect one of his own, then had to change them back when he realised he couldn’t get away with it.
- He refused to sack his Home Secretary after she was found to have broken the ministerial code last November, leaving his first independent advisor on ministerial interests to resign instead.
- He imposed a three-line whip to keep one of his own MPs in Parliament even after an independent panel found him guilty of harassment.
- He gave us the VIP lane for PPE contracts, the Randox and Greensill lobbying scandals and £3.5bn of taxpayer’s money lining the pockets of party donors and Tory cronies.
- He spent tens of thousands of pounds renovating his Downing Street flat, leading to an Electoral Commission investigation into whether the Conservative Party bunged the Cabinet Office a £58,000 donation from a multimillionaire donor to cover the cost.
- He took aim at the Electoral Commission for having the temerity to investigate him for breaking the rules, introducing a new law that will strip it of powers to prosecute law-breaking.
- His Government handed over half a billion pounds to Owen Paterson’s Randox without competition, including a second £350m contract after it failed to deliver on the first.
- His Government is “unable to locate” the minutes of a key meeting between Randox, Paterson and Health Minister Lord Bethell when that contract was discussed, even though it has accepted an order from Parliament to make them public.
- His Ministers are delaying publication of those minutes until the end of January instead of coming clean about what happened to them or if they even exist.
- He’s created a cash for access culture at the top of the Conservative Party, where every donor who gives the Tories £3m and serves as Treasurer gets a job for life in the House of Lords.
- He appointed a Co-Chair of the Conservative Party who has marketed access to his elite clients, moonlighted on foreign policy and created a shadowy ‘Advisory Board’ for superrich elite donors to hobnob with the Prime Minister and Chancellor.
- His Culture Secretary tried to get his chum Paul Dacre a plum job at the head of Ofcom, rerunning the recruitment process and changing the job requirements when his man didn’t get the job first time round.
- He declared a free holiday at a villa owned by the family of Tory peer and minister Lord Goldsmith on the list of ministers’ interests but not on the parliamentary register to avoid stating how much it cost.
- He promised to deliver HS2 to Leeds, Northern Powerhouse Rail, 6,000 more GPs, 40 new hospitals, no rise in National Insurance, no change to the Pensions Triple lock, and that no one would have to sell their home to pay for social care. You can’t trust a word he says.
- Labour’s five-point plan to clean up our politics will ban dodgy second jobs, close the revolving door between Government and lobbying firms, stop Tory plans for foreign money in British politics, stop the waste of taxpayers’ money and strengthen the standards system. Can the minister outline what plans the Government has to do the same?
- It is two weeks since Government was ordered Parliament to publish the key minutes of the meeting between Lord Bethell, Own Paterson and Randox. Can the minister update the ouseHouse on whether those minutes have been found and explain why it will take over two months to publish them?
- The Business Secretary apologised for suggesting that the independent standards commissioner should resign. The Leader of the House apologised for trying to rip up the standards rules. When will the Prime Minister apologise for his part in this sorry saga?
- There are seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Which of these does the minister believe the Prime Minister best upholds?
- The Independent Advisor on Ministers’ Interests can only launch an investigation into a potential breach of the Ministerial Code when the Prime Minister says so. If the advisor reports a breach the Prime Minister can simply ignore it. Does the Minister consider that to be an independent system?
- The Commons Standard Committee has published new proposals to strengthen the MPs’ Code of Conduct. Does the Minister agree with the Committee that it is “it is manifestly inappropriate for ministers to be subject to fewer and less onerous standards of registration of financial interests than Members who are not ministers”?
- Does the Minister agree that being found guilty of sexual misconduct in any workplace is deeply worrying, and if so, why has the Prime Minister allowed the Member for Delyn to rejoin his Party?
- Owen Paterson has been employed as a consultant by Randox since August 2015. From April 2017 they have been paying him £8,333 a month for 16 hours of work.
- Paterson consulted the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) about his role, and in approving the position ACOBA said: “Although Randox will have engagement with government in pursuit of its business, you have informed us that it will not be part of your role with the company to be involved in such engagement.”
- Yet Paterson did meet Government Ministers with Randox. He was present at a meeting between Health Minister James Bethell and Randox to discuss Covid-19 testing on 9 April 2020. The government has published the fact that the meeting had taken place but has refused to release the minutes.
- Randox was awarded two major UK Government contracts for Covid-19 testing: the first for £133m on 30 March 2020, and the second for £346.5m on 2 October 2020. Neither of these contracts was advertised or opened to competition.
- On 17 November 2021, the House agreed a Humble Address motion directing the Government to publish the minutes from a meeting of 9 April 2020 between Lord Bethell, Owen Paterson and Randox representatives, and all correspondence relating to Government contracts for services awarded to Randox Laboratories.
- At the debate prior to that motion being agreed, the Minister present was unable to provide a definition of what was within scope in relation to that commitment. She was unable to reassure the House with a concrete timetable to make good on that commitment. And she admitted that the Government was unable to locate the formal note of the meeting of 9 April which forms such a crucial element of that commitment.
- Seeking reassurances that the Government intended to keep its promises to Parliament, on Wednesday 24 November Labour raised a Point of Order in the House asking if it was in order for the Government to not be forthcoming with the vital information required to fulfil that promise. The Deputy Speaker said the Government should fulfil its obligations under the Humble Address and “in a timely fashion”.
- On Friday 26 November, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Affairs said the Government would respond to the Humble Address Motion “no later than the end of January”.
- A Cabinet Office inquiry found that Priti Patel had broken the ministerial code after Sir Philip Rutnam, the most senior Home Office official, resigned in February 2020. The inquiry was carried out by the prime minister’s head of standards, Sir Alex Allan and published in November 2020. It found that Ms Patel had “unintentionally” broken the ministerial code and that her approach to staff had “on occasions… amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt” by individuals.
- The Prime Minister, who is judge and jury over breaches of the Ministerial Code, decided to keep the Home Secretary in post, saying she was not a “bully” and there had been “mitigating” circumstances behind her behaviour. His head of standards resigned in the wake of that decision.
- Other Conservative ministers have faced accusations of breaking the Ministerial Code. Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock was found to have broken it “in technical terms” by Boris Johnson’s new advisor on ministerial interests Lord Geidt, letting him off the hook.
- The Prime Minister faced accusations of breaking the Code himself over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat. Lord Geidt – who reports to the Prime Minister and whose decisions the Prime Minister can be judge and jury over – concluded that the PM acted “unwisely” by not being more “rigorous” in finding out who had funded refurbishment work on the Downing Street flat. He was cleared of breaking the rules.
- The Government refused to fix a loophole that let one of their MPs Rob Roberts off the hook after he was found guilty of harassment by an independent panel. They were prepared to change the rules retrospectively to support cash for access but not to stop sexual harassment.
Cash for access
- The Conservatives have been accused of creating a cash for access culture at the heart of Government.
- It has been accused of abusing the honours system by systematically offering seats in the House of Lords to a select group of multimillionaire donors who pay more than £3 million to the party, as long as they take on the temporary role as the party treasurer.
- In the past two decades, all 16 of the party’s main treasurers — apart from the most recent, who stood down two months ago having donated £3.8 million — have been offered a seat in the Lords.
- The Co-Chair of the Conservative Party Ben Elliot has been arranging access for the Conservative Party’s biggest donors to the Prime Minister and Chancellor through a group known as the “advisory board”, which costs £250,000 a year.
- Mr Elliot has also discussed plans to set up a Conservative-Middle East liaison group with foreign ambassadors – but did not disclose that he was doing so on behalf of a paying client.
- Former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was found to have texted senior ministers at the height of the pandemic as part of an effort to convince ministers to give Greensill Capital, the finance firm he advised, the right to lend millions of pounds of government-backed Covid loans. Greensill was awarded lucrative Government contracts and the freedom of Whitehall.
- Labour accused the Government of manipulation and rerunning of the recruitment for the position because their preferred candidate Paul Dacre didn’t get the job first time round.
- After failing in his first attempt when an interview panel decided he did not fulfil the required criteria, ministers cleared the way for him to be given another shot and appointed a lobbyist for large media companies to help choose the next chair of Ofcom.
- Dacre eventually withdrew from the process, describing civil service recruitment as an “infelicitous dalliance with the blob” in a letter to The Times.
Labour’s five-point plan to fix our politics
1) Ban on second jobs
This starts with voting for Labour’s motion to urgently ban MPs working as paid parliamentary strategists, advisers or consultants – a recommendation made in 2018 by the committee on standards in public life.
In future Labour wants a wider ban on second jobs for MPs – with limited exemptions for public service roles or to maintain professional qualifications.
2) Stop the revolving door between Government and the companies that ministers are supposed to regulate
Labour will stop the revolving door by banning ministers from lobbying, advisory or portfolio-related jobs for at least five years after they leave office.
Former Ministers can currently walk straight into jobs lobbying on behalf of companies, profiting from privileged access to Government, information and public funds.
3) Stop Tory plans for foreign money in British politics and create strict rules to stop donations from shell companies
We are calling for the Government to put a stop to their plans in the Elections Bill to allow non-residents to donate to political parties through an incredibly relaxed registration process, including people who in tax havens to avoid paying tax in the UK for decades.
We are also calling on the government to close the loophole allowing the use of shell companies to hide the true source of donations. We’ll ensure that donors to UK political parties have a connection to the UK.
4) Stop waste and corruption with taxpayers’ money with a new Office for Value for Money and reform of procurement
Labour cares about stopping government waste because we respect taxpayers and our public services. A Labour government will set up an independent Office for Value for Money to scrutinise spending and ensure taxpayers’ cash is spent well.
Labour will reform the public procurement system, with contracts allowing for the return of public money when services and goods are not up to standard.
We are calling on the Government to implement all the recommendations of its own Boardman review – including the central register of conflicts of interest – and go further. We need to create a central register of all contracts and a proper log of all conflicts of interests including all Ministers, Special Advisers and Senior Civil Servants with any delegated spending authority.
5) A new overarching body across government, with adequate powers to look at Ministers’ behaviour
Labour will strengthen the current standards system by introducing a new Independent Integrity and Ethics Commission to sit across government. It will not affect the parliamentary standards process.
This cross-government approach will reduce the complications within the current system which creates loopholes and disjointed processes that the Government and Ministers can hide behind.
The existing committees and bodies that oversee standards in Government should be brought under a single, independent body, removed from politicians. This new committee will have powers to launch investigations without ministerial approval, collect evidence and decide sanctions.