Northampton councillors united in opposition to government's proposed changes to MP conduct rules

Paterson ultimately resigned today after opposition MPs refused to back the changePaterson ultimately resigned today after opposition MPs refused to back the change
Paterson ultimately resigned today after opposition MPs refused to back the change
The comments come as Owen Paterson, the source of the controversy, resigns as MP for North Shropshire

Councillors on both sides of the aisle have come out against the government's now-scrapped plans to change the government watchdog, which governs MPs' conduct.

The controversy arose on Wednesday (November 3), when the government blocked the removal of Owen Paterson, one of its own former ministers, who a committee found to be in breach of lobbying rules.

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County MP Dame Andrea Leadsom led the controversial vote, which helped the fellow Conservative MP avoid a 30-day suspension.

The changes proposed led Labour Leader Sir Kier Starmer to call the effort 'corrupt.'

Such disapproval has not been reserved for Westminster alone, and it is not just coming from the opposition party.

James Hill, who is the Conservative Councillor for Billing and Rectory Farm, said: "If there was an argument that the process is unfair and that the process should be changed, then maybe that was something. But it should always be done through proper parliamentary processes.

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"It's certainly something bipartisan across the board. I think whether it was a Labour MP or a Liberal Democrat MP I would feel the same way.

"Just the way it's been done and the way it was being portrayed, it wasn't good and it wasn't how things should be done.

"So I support the U-turn for those reasons. There is a proper procedure for these decisions and the government should certainly use them."

Daniel Soan is Northampton Town Councillor for Rushmills Ward, Far Cotton and Delapré Community, as well as the Chair of Northampton South Conservative Association. He was also opposed, with concern for what impression the decision would leave on people.

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He said: "One of my beliefs is that we we must always hold politicians to the highest possible standards, regardless of the colour of their rosette.

"It did sort of leave a bad taste in the mouth when the government was seen to be changing the rules after the event, whether that was intended or not.

"It felt like nailing the stable door shut after the horse has bolted by making changes retrospectively."

A West Northamptonshire Labour councillor has also spoken out and said she sees the government's move as an attempt to protect one of their own, at the cost of the system of government itself.

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Emma Roberts, deputy leader of West Northamptonshire's Labour Group, said that: "It's a shambles. Why it was even debated is beyond me. I don't appreciate the concept and it makes no sense to me. It feels like internal protectionism.

"It completely negates what little faith and trust there was in public servants and public services.

"And it's making a mockery of the system. It will have people wondering 'will they back track on that now' whenever they make a decision.

"Political decisions are supposed to change peoples' lives and make people's lives better. They are spending time and public money making decisions like that, which are totally unjustified and a complete waste of time.

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"I would be calling on the West Northamptonshire body to make decisions with the people at their heart, and to protest decisions like this far more."

While Owen Paterson has now resigned, Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that changes to the watchdog are still on the table, subject to receiving cross-party support. He said more detailed proposals will be released after consultation with other parties.