HENRY DEEDES watches MPs discus the policing of their own standards

Threat to beanos? Eek! It’ll put a few conks out of joint: HENRY DEEDES watches MPs discussing the policing of their own standards

The SNP member Pete Wishart’s face twitched as he informed the Commons that the matter of MPs’ standards was of ‘unprecedented public interest’.

Quite so. Down at my local each evening, the assorted bar-flies speak of little else.

And yet, as MPs discussed the matter in the House, all we could see was vast swathes of green space around the chamber.

Empty benches, barer than the branches on that ropy old excuse for a Christmas tree that they’ve plonked down in Trafalgar Square.

Those who did attend had come to hear the chairman of the committee on standards Chris Bryant (Lab, Rhondda) issue a statement on his report into improving the standards system.

The SNP member Pete Wishart’s (pictured) face twitched as he informed the Commons that the matter of MPs’ standards was of ‘unprecedented public interest’

Owen Paterson (pictured), was found to have breached lobbying rules while trousering £100,000 a year in consultancy work

This all comes in the wake of the infamous Owen Paterson affair, after the former environment secretary was found to have breached lobbying rules while trousering £100,000 a year in consultancy work.

Among Bryant’s recommendations was an outright ban on MPs giving paid-for advice or consultancy.

Sounds reasonable enough. Murky business a lot of this second jobs lark. And why on earth a firm like Hutchison Ports is happy to bankroll former transport minister no-hoper Chris Grayling (also on £100,000 a year) is anyone’s guess.

Does he crack rib-ticklers in the boardroom? From the Government side there was predictable disgruntlement with Bryant.

Of course there was. Think of all those easy spondoolicks they’d be missing out on if he gets his way!

Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con, Harwich) worried the report might be over-complicating matters: ‘More rules beget more rules,’ he complained.

Sir William Cash (Con, Stone) had been through the small print with a fine-tooth comb and found issue with paragraphs… (checks notes) …196, 243 and 244. Poor Sir Bill. Listening to him in the Commons is worse than listening to some legal-eagle bore prattle on at a convention.

Shadow leader of the House Thangam Debbonaire asked about all those foreign beanos MPs permanently seem to be on.

You know the sort – important sojourns to the Maldives to examine the effects of climate change; week-long stopovers in Bali to check on working conditions. These vital foreign ‘research’ trips are what some members live for. Surely he wouldn’t be getting rid of those? Bryant admitted it was something which might need looking at. Eeek! That’ll put a few conks out of joint.

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees Mogg (pictured) has been placed under investigation by parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Stone following reports that he failed to properly declare £6million in low-interest loans

Bryant admitted he himself had just got back from all-costs-covered jolly in Qatar. ‘All declared,’ he insisted. Naturellement!

Earlier at Business Questions, Wishart’s hyperbolic tendencies were already in overdrive as he erupted into one of his ripe tantrums.

He does this each Thursday without fail, while Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg marvels at how he builds himself into such a rich lather.

According to Wishart, Scottish independence was coming. Well, there’s a surprise.

The House of Commons was a ‘corrupt, sleazy cesspit’, he said, adding that the Scottish people ‘do not like what they see and are quickly determining that it is time to get the hell out of this place’. Well, best not tell them about Holyrood or they’ll be really appalled!

He made a dig about Rees-Mogg being placed under investigation by parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Stone following reports that he failed to properly declare £6million in low-interest loans. ‘Och, six million quid!’ scoffed Wishart. ‘I never knew he was so loaded. He could buy himself two peerages in the House of Lords with that money.’

The Mogg peered down at his aggressor with visible disappointment. A disgruntled diner who’s just detected mould in the peach melba.

Why on earth would he need to buy a peerage? He pondered.

As Leader of the Commons and Lord President he was already entitled to sit in the Lords.

This is clearly stated in the House of Lords Precedence Act 1539. Silly Wishart. Everyone knows that!

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