Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:29 pm on 24th July 2018.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 3:29 pm, 24th July 2018

I beg to move,

That this House–

(1) approves the Third Report of the Committee on Standards HC 1397;

(2) endorses the recommendations in paragraphs 34 and 35;

(3) accordingly suspends Ian Paisley from the service of the House for a period of 30 sitting days, beginning on Tuesday 4 September; and

(4) notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 45A, directs that Mr Paisley’s salary shall be withdrawn for 30 days, from Tuesday 4 September till Wednesday 3 October.

It is always regrettable when the House has to debate a motion of this kind, and we do so following a full process of investigation and consideration by a recognised due process. This motion follows the publication of the Committee on Standards’ third report of the Session, on Ian Paisley. The report was published on Wednesday 18 July, and the Government sought to schedule a debate as quickly as possible, in line with usual practice.

The matters before the House have been investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and reported on by the Committee on Standards. I thank the former commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, and the current commissioner, Kathryn Stone, for their work. I also thank Sir Kevin Barron, the Chair of the Committee on Standards, and other members of the Committee for their work in producing last week’s report. The Committee has concluded that there has been a failure to meet the standards expected by the House, and the Committee considers that hon. Member for North Antrim has “committed serious misconduct”.

Members may have noticed that the motion originally tabled under remaining orders last week has been slightly altered. This follows correspondence between me and the Chair of the Committee on Standards in which he clarified the Committee’s recommendations. The letter from the right hon. Member for Rother Valley reads:

“The Committee’s recommendation was that Mr Paisley should be suspended from the service of the House for a period of 30 sitting days beginning on 4 September. The intention of the Committee was that Mr Paisley should forfeit his parliamentary salary for an equivalent period, i.e. 30 days. However, I understand that the effect of simply suspending him for a period of 30 sitting days, without making separate provision for his salary, is likely to be that he will automatically forfeit that salary for a longer period than 30 days, because of the inclusion of non-sitting days in the overall period of suspension. That was not the Committee’s intention.”

I have therefore tabled today’s motion, which reflects the Committee’s intended recommendations.

The motion before the House therefore approves the report of the Committee on Standards, endorses the Committee’s recommendations and proposes suspension for 30 sitting days and withdrawal of the salary of the hon. Member for North Antrim for 30 days. I commend the motion to the House.