Owl says: what did you expect from this government?
“The head of the Commons standards watchdog has resigned and accused parliament of “sacrificing transparency” by banning the identification of MPs who are under investigation.
Sir Kevin Barron announced yesterday that he would step down next month after eight years of chairing the standards and privileges committee. “I am proud of the changes made to the code of conduct over the years, including the recent introduction of a new system of investigation into bullying and sexual harassment,” he said. But he took a swipe at his fellow MPs, adding: “It is a shame that some of those changes had to come with the sacrifice of transparency.”
In July members voted in favour of plans to keep secret the details of all MPs under investigation. The change was part of reforms being pushed through in response to reports of sexual harassment and bullying at Westminster.
Sir Kevin fiercely opposed the motion, describing it at the time as a “step backwards in transparency”. Lay members of the committee said that the move was “a detrimental step in continuing to build the credibility of the reputation of the House”. Less than two hours after the vote passed, the parliamentary standards commissioner had removed the list of current inquiries from its website.
Since 2010 details of MPs under inquiry, as well as rulings, have automatically been published. The new rules mean that the commissioner will no longer automatically publish verdicts.
Sir Kevin said: “I feel that now is an ideal time for me to move on and focus on other projects.” He commended the work of the lay members of the committee.
Jeremy Corbyn was reported to the standards commissioner last month for allegedly failing to declare his contentious trip to Tunisia or reveal who paid for it. If the commissioner were to rule that he broke Commons rules on declaring an overseas trip, he would have to apologise to MPs. Under the new system, however, the public would not automatically know of the details of the investigation. A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn has said: “The cost of the trip did not meet the declaration threshold.”
Source: The Times (paywall)