MPs pass 'watered down' Tory plans for second jobs amid sleaze allegations

17 November 2021, 19:18 | Updated: 17 November 2021, 21:13

The Government's amendment on standards has been approved
The Government's amendment on standards has been approved. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

MPs have passed Boris Johnson's "watered down" proposals for how their second jobs are handled, after rejecting a stricter Labour motion.

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The Conservatives helped reject a motion, pushed by Labour, to ban them from jobs such as consultants in the wake of the Owen Paterson affair.

It asked for a committee to make proposals on new rules and for MPs to be able to vote on those recommendations if the Government doesn't hold one within 15 days of them being unveiled.

Instead, a more vague proposal, which still asks the standards committee to come up with rules by the end of January, was passed.

Labour had accused the Tories of "watering down" their proposals.

The conservative motion was passed, by 297 votes to zero, after Labour and other opposition MPs chose not to vote against the government amendment this evening.

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Labour's motion called for a ban on "any paid work to provide services as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant" and was rejected by 282 votes to 231, majority 51.

The Opposition's proposal also included provisions requiring the Commons Standards Committee to come forward with proposals to implement the ban and guaranteeing time on the floor of the House for MPs to debate and vote on them.

Whilst the conservative motion has no mention of a proposal to punish MPs who priorities second jobs and only supports "cross-party work" with the Committee on Standards instead of endorsing the findings of a 2018 report on MPs' second jobs.

A handful of conservative MPs rebelled against the motion instead supporting Labour's standards motion including Peter Bone, Philip Hollobone, Nigel Mills and Dan Poulter .

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Following the vote in the Commons, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has vowed Labour will not "back down" over the proposals claiming the conservative plans are "unbelievable".

Sir Starmer said: "Well, we put forward a plan of action to clean up politics and strengthen standards in politics.

"And if you can believe it, after two weeks of Tory sleaze and corruption, the Prime Minister whipped his MPs against that plan of action and, frankly, he just doesn't get it."

"We are not going to back down from these proposals, we're not prepared to have them watered down, so we will press on with them. But it is unbelievable."

He added: "I've been really struck by how many Tory MPs seem to have lost faith and confidence in the Prime Minister. "It was noticeable at Prime Minister's Questions today that their benches were with many gaps, many MPs hadn't turned up to support him."