Ministerial Code

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:07 pm on 15th November 2005.

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Photo of Tony Wright Tony Wright Labour, Cannock Chase 9:07 pm, 15th November 2005

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman who raised several points. I shall deal with two of them if I may. First, do I think that standards have gone down? No, I do not; they have gone up quite considerably. The tragedy is that we have given people grounds to think that standards have gone down while in fact they have been rising. Not only have they gone up, but any intelligent historical or comparative tests show that we probably have the least corrupt way of doing politics of almost any political system in the world—across party. Why then do we spend so much effort trying to suggest that our political opponents are corrupt and sleazy? We do so because we think there may be some temporary political advantage in doing so. That brings me to the hon. Gentleman's second point, which is about resignation.

Chris Grayling has never knowingly undersold when making allegations against Ministers, usually demanding their resignation. But when someone jumps up every time anything happens, however minor, saying, "This is a scandal. This is outrageous. This is a resigning matter", when they go through the whole hyperbolic routine, the effect is to diminish regard for political life. Indeed, it loses the sense of the moment when that kind of language is required because something serious really has happened. Across the House, we have a responsibility to be far more intelligent and sensible about such matters.