SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna has said an attempt by the Tories to rewrite rules on parliamentary standards would turn back the clock on MPs sleaze.
She was speaking after Tory MPs attempted to have a suspension for MP Owen Paterson put on hold, by setting up a new committee to change the process for investigating MPs.
A parliamentary probe found Mr Paterson broke standards rules by using his position as an MP to benefit two firms for who he acted as a paid consultant.
South Belfast MP Claire Hanna said:
“The appropriately independent and cross-party standards committee ruled that Owen Patterson had committed an ‘egregious’ breach of lobbying rules, earning more than three times his MP’s salary by using his influence to advance two companies from Northern Ireland. Instead of accepting the punishment suggested by the committee, his friends in government are trying to dismantle accountability structures in order to spare his blushes.
“At a time when people’s trust in politicians and political institutions is so low, it is particularly important that accountability mechanisms are visible and strong. People need to be able to see that politicians are acting in the best interests of the public, and that they can be properly scrutinised and punished when they fail to meet those standards.
“We have seen the importance of these rules in the past when it comes to holding MPs, including some from Northern Ireland, to account and making them answerable to the public for their actions. The Conservatives are trying to defenestrate the standards commission to allow their MPs to act with impunity. This move is a slap in the face to voters and cannot be allowed to proceed unchallenged.”