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MPs to vote on paid consultancy work ban

MPs will vote on new rules to curb their outside business interests amid a fresh row over alleged Tory “dirty tricks” and Westminster “sleaze”.

In a surprise initiative, Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that he supported a ban on paid consultancy work called for by Labour.

The Government effectively took over Labour’s opposition day debate on Wednesday tabling an amendment with its own proposals.

The move provoked a furious response from Labour who accused ministers of “watering down” their original motion, effectively making it non-binding.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson says he now supports a ban on MPs’ paid consultancies (Leon Neal/PA)

Labour’s text calls for a ban on “any paid work to provide services as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant”.

Crucially, it also includes provisions requiring the Commons Standards Committee to come forward with proposals to implement the ban and guaranteeing time on the floor of the House for MPs to debate and vote on them.

In contrast, the more vaguely worded Government amendment simply describes the consultancy ban as “the basis of a viable approach” and supports the work of the Standards Committee to update the MPs’ code of conduct.

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said: “Labour has put forward a binding motion to start to clean up our politics after the Tory sleaze scandal. The Conservatives are trying to water that down.

“Boris Johnson has been backed into a corner and one minute accepts our motion in a letter to the Speaker but then comes forward with an amendment that will remove the central part that guarantees that action will be taken.

“This is typical Tory dirty tricks.”

A second Labour motion will attempt to the force the Government to release minutes of meetings between ministers, officials and Randox.

Randox is the diagnostics company which employed Owen Paterson, the former cabinet minister who triggered the storm, as a consultant.

Ministers will hope their amendment will placate Tory MPs still angry over the Government’s handling of the issue by sparing them the prospect of having to vote against a ban on paid consultancies.

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