The Parliamentary Resources Unit, Nigel Evans, Andrew Bridgen, Cyril Smith, the Maria Miller aftermath, Michael Fabricant’s dismissal: today’s papers are full of Westminster controversy and allegations. (It’s important in this context to point out again that the Deputy Speaker was found not guilty in court last week, which was a relief to his many friends, and that the North-West Leicestershire MP claims to have been “stitched up”.)
Mark Field wrote recently on this site that the Commons is out of touch with modern workplace norms and, whether one believes that the parallel is apt or not, it is inevitable that Downing Street and CCHQ would seek to draw up a complaints procedure. At which point, enter Graham Brady and the 1922 Committee’s Executive, according to the Sunday Times (£). They believe that the whips should not have charged of any new system.
As the ’22 Chairman puts it: “Party whips…inevitably have a conflict of interest and might not always see the resolution of the disputes between MPs and their staff as being of paramount importance.” He says that the ’22 has consulted ACAS, apparently “alarmed” by the Party’s official proposals. Brady was in the news last week, too: the Daily Telegraph reported that he told the Prime Minister on Monday that Conservative MPs believed Miller had to go.
He has form when it comes to seeing off Downing Street’s less well thought-through plans – such as its push at the start of this Parliament to abolish the ’22 in its present form – and has ideas of his own. In a recent lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies, he repeated his view that the executive and legislature should be separated altogether – “freeing Parliament from patronage and control of government”. It will be worth keeping an eye of this latest intervention.