Meon Valley Mp Votes to Block Action over Broken Lobbying Rules

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Meon Valley MP Flick Drummond yesterday voted to block action over a former Minister who’d broken lobbying rules.

Mrs Drummond supported an amendment to halt the case and set up a new structure to overhaul the standards system.

The cross-party Standards Committee had recommended that former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson be banned for 30 days after being found to have misused his position as an MP to benefit two firms he worked for.

A total of 248 Tory MPs voted in favour of the amendment, along with ex-Tory and now independent MP Rob Roberts – who was recently suspended himself for sexually harassing a male staff member – and the DUP’s Sammy Wilson.

Some 13 Tory MPs voted against the amendment despite the Government instructing them to vote for it. They were joined by 168 Labour MPs and 32 SNP MPs in opposing the move while 98 Tory MPs and 28 Labour did not record a vote. MPs voted 250 to 232 to approve the amendment.

It emerged last night that Mr Paterson had earnt more than £500,000 from the two companies, including a sum of £112,000 which he takes home every year – £100,000 of which is from clinical diagnostics company Randox. The other firm, Lynn’s Country Foods, has paid him £2,000 a month – for four hours’ work every other month – since January 2017.

As a backbench MP, Mr Paterson earns a basic annual salary of £81,932.

The committee’s recommendation that Mr Paterson be suspended from the Commons followed a damning report into his conduct by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone.

The report said the former Northern Ireland secretary had breached Commons rules by lobbying government bodies for Randox and Lynn’s Country Foods, which employed him as a paid consultant for more than £100,000 a year. It described the MP’s actions as “an egregious case of paid advocacy”.

The government did not order its MPs to uphold the proposed suspension, which could have led to Mr Paterson facing a by-election in his North Shropshire constituency. Instead, they were told to back the amendment drawn up by former Conservative cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom to pause his suspension and set up a new Tory-majority committee to look at how investigations are carried out.

Earlier this week Mrs Drummond voted cut a tax surcharge on bank profits by more than 60 per cent in the Budget. The tax will fall from 8% to 3% in April 2023 and the profit threshold at which banks will start paying tax will would rise to £100m from £25m.

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