Former chancellor George Osborne defends his Evening Standard role in the House of Commons

 
Mark Sands
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George Osborne Leaves Downing Street Ahead Of The Budget Vote
Osborne's appointment as editor of the Evening Standard was revealed on Friday. (Source: Getty)

Former chancellor George Osborne has come out in defence of his new role as editor of the Evening Standard, arguing parliament is "enhanced" by such opportunities.

Labour tabled an urgent question calling on the government to asses the functioning of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) and the Ministerial Code following Osborne's appointment.

The former chancellor submitted his appointment to Acoba on 13 March, but his new role was announced before the committee responded.

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Responding in the debate in the House of Commons today, Osborne said: ‚Äč"In my view, this parliament is enhanced when we have people of different experience take part in our robust debate.

"And when people who have held senior ministerial office continue to contribute to the decisions we have to make. But I will listen to what my colleagues have to say in this debate. I'm interested to hear."

Cabinet office minister Ben Gummer was cautious in his responses throughout the debate, repeatedly stating that any consultation with Acoba would remain a confidential process.

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Acoba falls under the remit of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs select committee, and member Cheryl Gillan said it would revisit an ongoing probe into the independent advisory group.

An ethics committee that advises Downing Street, the Committee for Standards in Public Life, has already said it will reconsider rules on second jobs in light of Osborne's appointment.

"There are arguments on both sides and it's important that we don't reduce this to an ad hominem attack on which we would make very bad policy," Gummer said.

However, Osborne was also backed by former ministers including Times columnist Michael Gove, and Anna Soubry, both of whom argued MPs constituents should be regarded as the "ultimate judge".

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