» Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Statement on Constitutional Reform

Put that the Prime Minister had said that he expected MPs expenses to be published over the next few days and asked if there was a specific time, the Prime Minister s Spokesman (PMS) said that it was a matter for the House of Commons, as they would be publishing the information.

Asked if the published information on expenses would be redacted, the PMS said that the Prime Minister wanted as much information as possible to be provided, subject to any security considerations that needed to be taken into account.

Asked about the issue of Peers pay, the PMS said that Peers were currently paid on a per diem basis and there was nothing further to add to what the Prime Minister has said in his statement.

Asked about a possible recall motion, the PMS said that the background on this was that the House of Commons had the power to expel Members but the last time a Member was expelled was in 1954; Colonel Peter Baker who got a seven year jail sentence for fraud. In terms of gross misdemeanours, the Prime Minister felt that we needed to look at the existing rules on expulsion and the extent to which those rules were being deployed. At this point we did not rule out recall but there was a difference in emphasis between expulsion and recall.

Asked if expulsion/recall was an issue that the Government wanted to put into the legislation that would hopefully be brought forward before the summer, the PMS said not necessarily; it would depend on how much progress had been made with the other parties.

Put that the Prime Minister had spoken about constitutional reform in 2007 and still nothing had been done, the PMS said that he did not accept the premise of the question, as there was a lot that we were taking forward in the Constitutional Renewal Bill and a lot that we had done already. We wanted to act in a consensual way wherever possible.

Asked if the legislation surrounding the new Parliamentary Standards Authority and the new Code of Conduct would be in one bill, the PMS said yes and that we hoped to introduce and debate this bill before the summer break. If it were possible to complete the whole process by the summer then that would be all well and good but realistically we were talking about introduction and debate before the summer break, and then the bill coming into law in the autumn. The key point to remember was that these debates directly addressed the issues of public concern about how MPs conducted their affairs, how they were regulated and how they behaved. We wanted to take these issues head on with the proposals we were setting out today; our intention was to introduce legislation as soon as possible.

In regards to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act the PMS was asked if the Prime Minister thought the salaries of senior BBC staff should be made public, the PMS said that the BBC was already covered by the FOI Act. The Prime Minister had mentioned extending the FOI Act in his statement in terms of bodies that were not technically in the public sector but performed public functions, for example private prisons.

original source.

Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news

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