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Tories ramp up questioning of why the Kelly Report was not included in the Queen's Speech

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Picture 17In his response to the Queen's Speech, David Cameron pointed out in the Commons that no measures recommended in the Kelly Report were mentioned in the Government's legislative programme. Here's what he said precisely:

"Then there is the biggest omission of all, and frankly it will infuriate the British people whom we are here to represent. The Prime Minister said—hon. Members will remember this—that the whole reason for delaying the election, the whole reason he could not go to the country in the summer, was that he wanted to clean up the mess of MPs’ expenses. Yet there is no mention of expenses or the Kelly report in the Queen’s Speech. To implement Kelly—to clean up expenses—11 separate measures still need to be passed into law. So where is the legislation? Where are the laws that we were promised? Why are they not in the Queen’s Speech?

"Let me make this offer to the Prime Minister: if he brings forward legislation to implement the rest of Kelly we will support it and help him to pass it through this House and the House of Lords. I will give way to the Prime Minister so that he can stand up and say that he will bring forward this legislation and together we can take it through Parliament. Will he do it? No. No one watching will understand why this vital work is not being done in this Parliament. Why do we not show them that we meant what we said? Instead of the measures in the Queen’s Speech—most of which will not become law by the next election—the expenses changes, the Kelly changes, could become law by the next election.

"Let me give the Prime Minister another chance, now that he has finished consulting the Leader of the House. Let him stand up now and tell us that together we can pass the laws to implement Kelly in full. He tells us that he is serious about cleaning up politics, but when it comes to the crunch—absolutely nothing."

The Conservatives have tonight issued a list of the 11 separate measures (see below) to which David Cameron referred. They include entrenching the independent determination of MPs' pay and pensions with the new regulatory and ending the right of MPs to also be a member of a devolved legislature. The Tories have also re-iterated their offer to support such legislation if the Government brings it forward after all.

Meanwhile, Sir Christopher Kelly himself has expressed disappointment at the Government's failure to act oin his recommendations - as they had promised they would - and issued the following statement:

"It is disappointing that today's Queens's Speech did not contain measures to address the changes we believe to be necessary affecting the remit, powers and independence of the new body being established to regulate expenses. There is no reason why the relatively straightforward legislation needed in this area should prevent the new regulatory body from getting other important changes underway."

9.30pm update:

Hee is the full list of required legislative measures identified by the Committee on Standards in Public, as published by the Conservatives this evening:

  1. The recommendation requiring Parliamentary candidates’ to declare their interests, other jobs when standing for election.
  2. The recommendation ending the practice of MPs simultaneously standing in the House of Commons and in a devolved legislature.
  3. The recommendation of the new body to have a statutory duty to support MPs in their parliamentary duties in a transparent and cost-effective way.
  4. The recommendation of the independent regulator to have a statutory duty to support MPs in their parliamentary duties in a transparent and cost-effective way.
  5. The recommendation to return responsibility of maintaining the Register of Financial Interests and Code of Conduct to the House of Commons. 
  6. The recommendation to entrench the independent determination of MPs’ pay and pensions with the new regulatory body given statutory responsibility for setting pay, pensions and dealing with expenses. The House resolved in July not to vote on its pay (it still determines pensions). However, unlike the independent regime for expenses, this has not been entrenched with primary legislation.
  7. The recommendation to give the new independent regulator responsibility for investigating breaches of expenses.
  8. The recommendation requiring MPs to co-operate with the new regulator, repay wrongly paid and miscalculated sums and impose non-parliamentary sanctions for breaches of the expenses regime, for example like the sanctions currently available to HMRC and DWP. 
  9. The recommendation to appoint the chair of the new regulatory body for a non-renewable five-year term. 
  10. The recommendation to put the independent regulator under a general duty to act openly and transparently and to report to the public and House of Commons.
  11. The recommendations to repeal the Sunset provisions in the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.

Thursday 11.30am update:

Interviewed on the Today Programme this morning, David Cameron denied the suggestion that he had colluded with Sir Christopher Kelly in attacking the Government on this issue, but indicated that thee had been contact of some kind:

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised. It’s quite possible, that someone would, out of politeness, ring up and say, that, what did he think about the fact that his own proposals weren’t mentioned in the Queen’s Speech?”

The Times has now had confirmation that Sir George Young spoke to Sir Christopher after the Queen's Speech debate:

A spokeswoman for Mr Cameron was then forced to clarify the situation. She admitted that Sir George Young, the Shadow Commons leader, telephoned Sir Christopher “straight after” the Commons debate on the speech. She said it was a normal courtesy to inform someone that such an issue had been raised, and said it was “total nonsense” to say there was any collusion.

A spokeswoman for Sir Christopher confirmed the timing of the call to the watchdog’s office. “This issue is too important to play party politics with,” she said. “Our statement went out in response to media calls asking for our response to the fact that there was no legislation in the Queen’s Speech.”

Jonathan Isaby


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