Ministerial Code of Conduct

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th January 2001.

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Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Conservative, Blaby 12:00 am, 17th January 2001

What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of paragraph 113 of the ministerial code of conduct.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

My position on the ministerial code was set out in the Government's response to the Neill committee's sixth report, which was published in July.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Conservative, Blaby

The Prime Minister knows that his ministerial code is his responsibility alone. It has nothing to do with the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges. Does he recall writing the foreword to the code? It stated: I will expect all Ministers to work within the letter and spirit of the code. Paragraph 113, which deals specifically with trade unions, states: Care must be taken to avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest … It continues: Ministers should receive no remuneration from a union. How does the Prime Minister reconcile that with the flat that the Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible for transport, rents from the transport union for some £10,000 a year less than the market rate? That is a substantial benefit in kind. When will he enforce his own rules?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I do enforce our rules—and it is relevant to note that the Standards and Privileges Committee dismissed the complaint, and found it to have absolutely no substance.

As for the hon. Gentleman's unpleasant and nasty obsession with this issue, it reflects much worse on him than on the Deputy Prime Minister, whose integrity I prefer to his any day of the week.