Friday, July 21, 2006

Ministerial Code and MP's Standards re-defined

From the standpoint of the rules governing MPs' and Ministers' behaviour, there were two issues at stake in the Prescott/Anschluz affair:

1. The requirement that gifts and hospitality be declared in the register of members' interests
2. The requirement that ministers should NOT accept hospitality in circumstances where it might place them (or appear to place them) under an obligation in relation to government business or contracts.

In light of the decisions of the Parliamentary Standards Committee on the Standards Commissioners report into the Prescott 'gifts to MP's' part of John Prescott's behaviour, both these rules have apparently been redefined:

1. MP's need no longer worry about punishment for breaching the registration of gifts or hospitality rules, so long as they register them immediately they are found out.
2. To all intents and purposes the ministerial code no longer applies since, so long as you admit to breaking it when found out, you are in the clear.

Read this transcript of today's Downing Street press briefing on the issue. It uses 10 times as many words to say exactly that, Over and over and over again.

Shopfting is A OK - just so long as you offer to pay when you get caught at it
(Hat tip to Iain Dale)

Surreal !

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