Ministerial Code

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:19 pm on 15th November 2005.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Cabinet Office) 8:19 pm, 15th November 2005

Time is running out, and the hon. Gentleman will have time to respond to this point and the one about shadow Ministers' accountability when he winds up.

There is a UK Parliament and a UK general election, and we are elected here by our constituents. I hope that the previous intervention was not some sort of sideways endorsement of the Liberal policy of proportional representation, on which we would disagree strongly. On the question of Short money, some people have started to ask about value for money and the public ethics of it. I will leave that legitimate point there, and the hon. Gentleman might respond to it later.

I will try your patience, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I continue for much longer on the question of Opposition accountability in relation to the ministerial code and use of taxpayers' money—£22 million of it since 1997. I want to thank the Conservative party, however, and I look forward to hearing whether it is willing to adhere to the same standards as Ministers.

Had it not been for the galling sight of two Ministers committing perjury, and for the fact that a number—not all—of Conservative Members of Parliament were lining their own pockets from asking questions in this Chamber, the momentum for many reforms, in terms of the growth in regulation of our body politic, important decisions about the ministerial code, openness in government, overseas donations and publishing the list of gifts to Ministers, would not have been in place. In that at least, we find common cause. We thank the Conservative party for getting itself into such a mess prior to the 1997 election that we have been forced to clean that up. We do not, however, feel any sense of complacency, and we will continue to find ways of improving our body politic. That is an issue on which the public will judge us each and every day, and come the general election.