Home Secretary: Resignation and Reappointment - Commons Urgent Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:35 am on 27th October 2022.

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The following Answer to an Urgent Question was given in the House of Commons on Wednesday 26 October.

“I was disappointed, on leaving my previous Department last night, that I would no longer be seeing the right honourable Lady across the Dispatch Box, and I am so glad that she has put that right for me today. She has a good memory, and I know she will recall that last week the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office—my honourable friend the Member for Bassetlaw, Brendan Clarke-Smith—said, in responding to a Question that she had tabled, that questions relating to

‘breaches of the ministerial code’

or related issues

‘are a matter for the Cabinet Office, not the Home Office’.—[Official Report, Commons, 22/10/22; col. 834.]

That is why I, not the Home Secretary, am here answering the question today. My honourable friend the Member for Bassetlaw set out the circumstances regarding the departure of the Home Secretary last week. The Home Secretary made an error of judgment. She recognised her mistake, and she took responsibility for her actions. The Ministerial Code allows for a range of sanctions when mistakes have been made. The Home Secretary recognised her mistake, raised the matter and stepped down. Her resignation was accepted by the then Prime Minister.

The right honourable Lady will be aware that ministerial appointments are a matter solely for the Prime Minister, as the sovereign’s principal adviser on the appointment, dismissal and acceptance of resignations of Ministers. The Prime Minister was very clear in his speech to the nation yesterday when he said:

‘This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.’

He has said that he will work ‘day in, day out’ to earn the trust of the country and live up to the demands and expectations that the public rightly have of their Prime Minister. The Prime Minister expects all Ministers to uphold the values and standards set by the Ministerial Code, as the public would rightly expect.

As I have said, the Home Secretary made an error of judgment. She recognised her mistake, and she took accountability for her actions in stepping down. After consideration, the Prime Minister has decided, given the apology issued by the Home Secretary, to reappoint her to the Government. They are now focused, together, on working to make our streets safer and to control our borders. However, while we should learn from mistakes, we should also look to the future, and the Prime Minister has appointed a team of Ministers to lead the country through the issues that it faces.

All Ministers are bound by the Ministerial Code, and the Prime Minister expects his Ministers to uphold the code and hold the highest standards. As I have noted, the code allows for a range of sanctions for breaches, and on the recommendation of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the code was updated in May to make that clear. On an ongoing basis, we will need—every Minister—through our actions and in how we conduct ourselves, to demonstrate that we can continue to command this Prime Minister’s confidence as we tackle the huge challenges that are to come for the country.”