MP defends decision in vote for colleague guilty of misconduct - The Evesham Observer

MP defends decision in vote for colleague guilty of misconduct

Evesham Editorial 12th Nov, 2021   0

EVESHAM’s MP Nigel Huddleston has defended his decision to vote in favour of a pause in the 30-day suspension of colleague Owen Paterson.

Mr Huddleston was the among the 250 Conservatives who voted in favour of an amendment which sought to review the way MPs’ behaviour is policed despite Mr Paterson being found guilty of misusing his position to benefit two companies he worked for.

Following a Government u-turn, Mr Paterson resigned the following day and vowed to leave the ‘cruel world’ of politics behind.

“I believe it’s important that the integrity of MPs is maintained and held to a high standard. It’s widely recognised that the current system is far from ideal,” Mr Huddleston said.

“Change to the system is therefore needed but it is preferable to separate the process from individual cases.”

Allies of the MP claim the system was unfair and proposed a pause of his punishment while a review of the Commons Standards Committee procedure was carried out.

The government ordered its own MPs to vote for the move however 98 Conservatives including Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin did not vote.

Mrs Baldwin was in Glasgow at the COP26 summit and did not take part in the vote as a result.

“I have enormous compassion for Owen Paterson, who has experienced a recent terrible tragedy when his wife took her life,” she said.

“I understood his desire for the kind of fair hearing any of my constituents would receive in an employment matter although it is important that MPs should not engage in paid advocacy.

“I wish my Shropshire colleague well as he moves on from this difficult episode,” Mrs Baldwin added.

Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone last month recommended Mr Paterson be suspended from the Commons for 30 days, after a damning report into his conduct by a committee of MPs including Conservatives.

The report said the former Northern Ireland secretary had breached Commons lobbying rules by making approaches to government bodies about Randox and Lynn’s Country Foods, which employed him as a paid consultant and described his actions as an ‘egregious case of paid advocacy’.

The committee found the North Shropshire MP had used his parliamentary office on 16 occasions for meetings relating to his outside business interests and sent two letters relating to business interests on House of Commons headed notepaper.

However, the former Northern Ireland minister fiercely denied any wrongdoing and said his approaches were within the rules as he was seeking to alert ministers to defects in safety regulations.


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