‘Trumpian’: Welsh polticians slam Westminster vote to stop suspension of Tory MP
Welsh politicians have slammed a Westminster vote to stop the suspension of a Tory MP who committed an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules.
Owen Paterson faced a 30 day suspension and a possible by-election, after a committee found he had misused his position to benefit two companies he worked for.
Allies of the North Shropshire MP however have proposed a new committee to look at how investigations are carried out, a move backed by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a Commons vote, by 250 to 232.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart and neighbour Stephen Crabb were among those who did not vote despite the Conservative whip.
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said that the whole case was an example of “Tory sleaze”.
“[He] used his power to further the interests of people who paid him more than an MP’s salary,” she said.
“His mates just voted to let him off the hook.
“Plaid Cymru believes it’s a full-time job to represent constituents. Party policy bans taking extra salaried work.”
Commenting on the decision, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said that the development was “Trumpian”.
“While I understand Owen Paterson MP has faced a difficult few years, publicly elected members of the UK’s political system must be held to the highest of standards in order to maintain trust with the public and protect the integrity of our democracy,” she said.
“Today’s developments mark a shameful move by Conservative MPs to rewrite the rules to look after one of their own. It’s also sheer hypocrisy after ministers claimed they couldn’t change the rules retrospectively to allow Rob Roberts MP to be voted out by his constituents.
“This Conservative Government is continuously marred by sleaze and now is watering down the independent scrutiny we need to prevent more scandals dragging our politics through the mud.
“The public are sick and tired of watching the Conservative Party allow one set of rules and standards for themselves while expecting another set for the rest of the country and will see through this blatantly Trumpian move.”
Speaking in the Commons, Welsh Labour MP Chris Bryant, Chair of the Committee on Standards, said that Owen Paterson had lobbied ministers “time and again, in a way that conferred a direct benefit on his paying clients”.
“That is expressly forbidden. It is a corrupt practice,” he added. He said Mr Paterson was given “every opportunity” to put his case across – and his case was heard “respectfully and fairly”.
He added after the vote that he would continue to chair his committee.
The SNP have already said that they will not take part in any new committee set up as a result of the vote.
Owen Paterson later issued a statement saying he now has the opportunity to clear his name.
“The process I was subjected to did not comply with natural justice,” he said.
“No proper investigation was undertaken by the commissioner or committee. The standards commissioner has admitted making up her mind before speaking to me or any witnesses.
“All I have ever asked is to have the opportunity to make my case through a fair process. The decision today in parliament means that I will now have that opportunity.
“After two years of hell, I now have the opportunity to clear my name.
“I am extremely grateful to the PM, the leader of the house and my colleagues for ensuring that fundamental changes will be made to internal parliamentary systems of justice.
“I hope that no other MP will ever again be subject to this shockingly inadequate process.”