Ben Bradshaw

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Question on Parliamentary Standards

At an Urgent Question yesterday on Parliamentary Standards, I asked the Leader of the House about the reform process.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): I thought that we had got rid of self-regulation after the expenses scandal, and not before time. Given the doubts about the strength of the recall proposals and in the light of the current saga, what can the Leader of the House say to reassure the public that the reform process, which must be a process without a full stop, has not stalled under this Government?

Mr Lansley: I would reassure the public by saying that, yes, there is a small number of legacy cases, but we now have a fully independent system that has all the powers it needs to take the necessary steps when anything goes wrong, now and in the future. Echoing the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley) about the retiring chief executive of IPSA, Andrew McDonald, objectively speaking, IPSA has come a long way in creating a situation that should command greater confidence about expenses.

So far as the regulation of Members’ other conduct is concerned, the public have to look at individual cases—for example, those relating to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests and conflicts of interest, or to a Member behaving in a way that brings the House into disrepute—and decide whether the independent Commissioner for Standards has pursued the matter robustly. It is certainly her job to do so, and I hope that Members and the public will agree that she does. When we read the reports following her investigations, they are often very detailed and thorough. The public also have to decide whether the decisions are proportionate. That is a matter of judgment, but I believe that the Standards Committee has put in place robust sanctions in recent cases involving that kind of poor behaviour.

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