Government minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has come out in support of a ban on MPs taking on consultancy work ahead of today’s emergency debate.
The international trade secretary said she would support a rule change being mulled by the Commons standards committee which would bar MPs from paid lobbying on behalf of commercial interests.
The comments come after the government faced backlash over its attempts to block the suspension of Owen Paterson MP, a former minister who was accused of breaking parliamentary standards by engaging in paid advocacy on behalf of two companies.
“I think the question of MPs having jobs that involve lobbying perhaps should be looked at again,” Trevelyan told Sky News.
“But, across the board, I don’t think we should have a removal of the ability to maintain a second job, because it brings a richness to our role as members of parliament,” she added.
The government’s reaction to revelations about Owen Paterson’s paid lobbying efforts caused outrage across the house.
Paterson was accused of “serious breaches” to standards by the parliamentary commissioner for standards Kathryn Stone who ruled that Paterson broke advocacy rules during his work for clinical diagnostics firm Randox and manufacturer Lynn’s Country Foods.
Paterson was paid £100,000 a year by the two firms and contacted the Food Standards Agency, a regulator, on behalf of these firms at least 10 times without declaring his lobbying activities, according to Stone.
Johnson responded to the allegations by trying to reform the rules used to police MPs and the Conservative whips urged Paterson’s colleagues to vote down his suspension. Dozens of Conservative MPs disobeyed the order.
Johnson is not expected to attend today’s emergency debate.