Ministerial Code

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:31 pm on 15th November 2005.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Secretary of State (Justice), Shadow Secretary of State 9:31 pm, 15th November 2005

We have had an excellent debate, to which my right hon. Friend Sir George Young made a notable contribution. As Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee, he is able to bring his experience of many complaints against Members of Parliament and how they have been dealt with, and to compare that regime with what happens to Ministers under the ministerial code. When he asked where confidence would be if nothing had been done—if we had not had the register, the Committee of Standards and Privileges and the other changes—I agreed with his point.

That contrasted with the point made somewhat unusually by Dr. Wright, who took an establishment view that we should just stop talking about possible breaches of the ministerial code and try to reduce the number of regulators, and everything would be all right. He must accept that there has been a change in culture over recent years, partly to do with the fact that previously Members of Parliament were paid very little and had outside interests, whereas now that is not the case. The public now expect transparency in what we do and to have an independent element of both advice and investigation.

The Government's amendment and the Minister's speech were—