John Bercow ‘was an appalling speaker’ says Kate Hoey
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Last week Owen Paterson was handed a month-long suspension from Parliament after being found by a cross-party group of MPs to have lobbied repeatedly on behalf of two companies. He was earning more than £100,000 a year from the firms when the offences are said to have occurred between October 2016 and February 2020.
Mr Paterson has rejected the findings and said his interventions were addressing serious wrongs saved lives.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Express earlier this week, he also accused the standards investigation of contributing to his wife’s suicide.
Tomorrow, MPs will hold a vote as supporters of Mr Paterson attempt to overturn his month-long Commons ban – a suspension long enough to force a parliamentary by-election.
Usually sanctions imposed by the standards committee are approved as a formality, and the suggestion they could be rejected has led to divisions between Sir Lindsay and Mr Bercow.
The incumbent Speaker has told friends he fears Westminster’s reputation will be seriously damaged if the sanctions are not approved, according to The Times.
A source told the publication: “Lindsay is concerned that voting this down would do the House real reputational damage.
“The House voted for this system.
“The committee found that Owen Paterson had breached the rules.
“We have to be very careful here or it’s going to end up looking like the expenses scandal all over again.”
Meanwhile, Mr Bercow attacked the standards investigation into Mr Paterson as “indefensible” and said it had not been “conducted in accordance with natural justice”.
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“You have experienced a protracted, Kafkaesque process,” he said in a letter to the North Shropshire MP.
The issue is the first division to have emerged between the pair.
Both Sir Lindsay and Mr Bercow have been careful not to criticise each other.
They have taken very different approaches when in the Chair.
While Mr Bercow was known for his booming voice and refusal to shirk away from breaking precedents, Sir Lindsay has sought to bring his own style to the role and to build bridges previously broken.
Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who chairs the standards committee, has sided with Sir Lindsay and warned his colleagues against rejecting the recommended month suspension.
He said: “Voting or watering down this sanction would do serious reputational damage to parliament and would open politics up to a new scandal of paid lobbying by MPs.”
A debate and a vote on the matter will take place after PMQs tomorrow.
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