Ministerial Code

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:46 pm on 15th November 2005.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Cabinet Office) 9:46 pm, 15th November 2005

The hon. Lady is one of the few who attended the whole debate. [hon. Members: "Read them out."] I shall not read them out. Time will not allow me to do that.

In his winding-up speech, the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire referred to the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. My right hon. Friend Mr. Blunkett visited my constituency during the election campaign. He had a good campaign visit. However, one lady in particular was very keen to meet him. She approached him and said, "Mr. Blunkett, I'm delighted that you've come to East Renfrewshire. I wanted to meet you to tell you how much I dislike you." I do not know how many hon. Members have shared such a campaign experience. Of course, my right hon. Friend committed a technical breach of the ministerial code and he paid for it with his political career. That is a heavy price.

However, I reiterate that it is a world away from Conservative Members being paid to ask questions in the Chamber with brown envelopes in their pockets. It is a different world from former Conservative Cabinet Ministers occupying Belmarsh rather than the Opposition Benches—as I said earlier, Belmarsh was on the verge of setting up its own Conservative Association because so many Conservatives were being locked up there. It is a far cry from Ministers having to resign because they were trying to block investigations into the cash-for-questions inquiry.

The fact is that we have introduced a whole series of firsts: the first ministerial code; the first Freedom of Information Act; the first draft civil service Bill—