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Blow To Politics Clean-up Bill As Mps Defend Parliamentary Privilege

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/ju...-standards-bill

The government's efforts to rush through emergency legislation to clean up politics tonight took a second knock in as many days as it was defeated in its attempts to make it easier to secure prosecutions in alleged cases of "cash for questions".

On the third and final day of debate on the parliamentary standards bill in the Commons, the government was defeated by three votes, 250 to 247, on plans to end "parliamentary privilege" and allow parliamentary debates to be used in court as evidence. John Reid, the former home secretary, voted against the government for the first time in his parliamentary career. Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, was another rebel.

The justice secretary, Jack Straw, said he would "respect" the will of the house.But a government spokesman described the defeat as "scandalous" and accused Conservative MPs of a lack of will to reform. A Conservative spokesman said the vote was "a complete shambles" and insisted they supported other planks of the bill. The new legislation has been squeezed into the last three weeks of parliament's agenda, as the main parties push for new rules to reach the statute book before the summer. That would allow MPs to leave Westminster for the three-month summer break to work in their constituencies. But some have been unhappy at the crunched timetable for the bill and the attempt by the government to add new "legal" elements to the legislation.

Under the plans, the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority would oversee expenses claims and have powers to recommend fines or expulsion for MPs who break the rules.

On Monday night the government dropped plans which could have made a new code of conduct for MPs legally enforceable. On Tuesday the justice secretary dropped a further aspect of the bill, which would have legally required MPs to declare any "specified financial interest" before taking part in a debate in the Commons chamber. After the Labour backbencher Frank Field said he would rather go to jail than obey this, Straw announced he would drop that aspect.

Sir Stuart Bell, one of the Labour rebels, said: "When we kicked off we expected a bill that was going to get rid of the incestuous relationship between MPs and the Fees Office. But then the government added in all sorts of additional clauses that created new criminal offences.

"The problem was that we were seeing all privilege going to the courts as in the US where Congress gets challenged all the way to the supreme court.""

Today the cross-party justice select committee published a report warning ending parliamentary privilege would curb MPs' ability to speak freely on behalf of voters. Particularly damaging was evidence by the clerk of the house, Malcolm Jack, who warned the move would have a "chilling effect" on MPs and undermine parliamentary privilege. The concerns of the justice committee were shared by the human rights committee. Its chair, Andrew Dismore, said the parliamentary standards bill in its current form was incompatible with human rights laws, and MPs under investigation should have the "opportunity to be heard in person".

You have to laugh, really. :lol:

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I think the whole idea of this bunch of blood suckers writing the legislation in a hurry was just a very very very bad idea.

It needs time and thought to ensure we get it right.

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Actually not; they've done the right thing by voting to retain parliamentary privilege.

It needs time and thought to ensure we get it right.

Indeed it does.

'Dark secrets of the parliamentary standards bill':

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/blog/talking_poli.../article/44505/

We're in such a rush to pass the parliamentary standards bill that it hasn't received the scrutiny it deserves. But there are some disturbing and unhelpful clauses in this law.

[...snip...]

Firstly, it introduces new laws that are entirely unnecessary, and secondly it fundamentally undermines the constitutional principle which frees parliament from Britain's oppressive and undemocratic libel laws. The first is pitiful, the second is dangerous.

[...snip...]

Losing parliamentary privilege would rid us of one avenue of circumventing these oppressive laws. Journalists and activists regularly ask MPs to ask questions in parliament on issues which they know would end them in court if they were aired anywhere else. It's an important method to subvert a system which favours rich individuals and corporations, who can threaten and cajole others with the threat of a lawsuit. It helps us get to the truth.

The government is trying to get out of the expenses scandal in the same way it went into it: by sucking more power from parliament, and treating British law like its plaything. And all this just when it is claiming to be working to hand back power to parliament.

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Actually not; they've done the right thing by voting to retain parliamentary privilege.

Indeed it does.

'Dark secrets of the parliamentary standards bill':

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/blog/talking_poli.../article/44505/

"we're in such a rush to pass the parliamentary standards bill we haven't given it the proper scrutiny it deserves" :lol::lol::lol::lol:

par for the course,should have read what the lisbon treaty is really about.

it's no bloody wonder all our MP's have got time for a spot of moonlighting.

D- guys,could do a lot,lot better.

they're not on piece work are they??

Edited by oracle

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