Eastbourne MP welcomes government U-turn on standards review

Eastbourne’s MP has explained why she voted with the government on a review of the standards system last week.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 12:25 pm
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell

Plans to look at the system governing MPs’ conduct, after Owen Paterson had been found to have broken lobbying rules, were withdrawn after a huge outcry.

Steve Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, expressed his and the regret of ministerial colleagues over the ‘mistake made last week’.

On Monday (November 8), he said although ‘sincerely held concerns clearly warrant further attention, the manner in which the Government approached last week’s debate conflated them with the response to an individual case’.

He added: “This House shares a collective interest in ensuring that the code of conduct reflects and fosters the highest standards of public life.”

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell was among those to vote with the government last Wednesday.

She said: “I am very pleased the Government has reconsidered its position. I spoke to ministers to express my concern that reform of the system that investigates MPs’ conduct and the Owen Paterson case should not be linked together.

“I also welcome Owen Paterson resigning. I think it is the right thing for him to do.

“I voted in favour of the amendment on one principle and one alone - that everyone should have the right to appeal.

“Under the rules we have now Owen Paterson did not have that right. I think this is unfair.

“This very week I have taken up exactly this same cause for a local man, summarily dismissed from his position after years of dedicated service and all without the right to an appeal. This case has caused huge personal upset for him and has had far reaching repercussions beyond his friends and family.

“I was shocked by the decision and the ruling against him by what is a reputable organisation and I was then equally shocked that he had no right of appeal.

“I have petitioned the organisation’s chief executive for an urgent meeting and flagged the case yesterday with a minister. This is the type of work I do for those who need my help in Eastbourne and Willingdon.

“I would also like to make a few things absolutely clear that some who want to play politics would like to mislead people about.

“In no way did I vote to change standards or ‘free’ Owen Paterson of the allegations against him.

““My vote did not exonerate Owen Paterson, it only delayed a ruling. I am firmly of the view that Owen Paterson had a case to answer.

“I understand the public’s concern about what has happened and I will be replying to those who have contacted me.”

Last week, Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Eastbourne Josh Babarinde criticised the way Ms Ansell had voted in the Commons.

He said: “For me, public service is about honesty, decency and integrity. I’m afraid that Caroline Ansell’s actions in Parliament today fly in the face of this.”