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Observation On Labour to call vote on whether Jeremy Hunt should be investigated


MPs could be asked to vote on whether Jeremy Hunt has broken the ministerial code, Labour has confirmed.

The party wants to keep up pressure on the prime minister following his decision not to refer Mr Hunt to an independent investigator.

But any vote would not be binding and decisions on the ministerial code are solely a matter for the PM.

Deputy Leader Harriet Harman accused David Cameron of trying to sweep the issue under the carpet.

Following Mr Hunt’s appearance at the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday, Number 10 said the prime minister would not refer the case to Sir Alex Allen, his adviser on the ministerial code.

The prime minister believes the culture secretary acted properly when he was responsible for the BSkyB takeover bid.

‘Code torn up’

 

But Ms Harman said Mr Hunt had clearly breached the rules.

“Jeremy Hunt has broken the ministerial code and misled Parliament”, she said.

“It is not acceptable that these rules have been broken and we will call a vote insisting that Jeremy Hunt’s breaches of the code are referred to the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests.”

She added: “The ministerial code sets the standards which secretaries of state must live up to. When David Cameron came into power, he upgraded the code and he said he was going to have higher standards in public office. Today those words ring hollow – he has just torn up the code.

 

“Even if the David Cameron thinks it is acceptable for a minister to break the code he drew up, we do not and will call a vote.”

Unless something significant happens before MPs return from their Whitsun break, Labour will use its next scheduled debate day, 13 June, to call the vote.

Deputy chairman of the Conservative party, Michael Fallon, denied that there had been a serious breach of the code.

“The code is there to make sure that ministers conduct themselves appropriately, but the best test of that was the inquiry session that was held yesterday (Thursday) in front of a judge where all these issues were fully brought out and evidence was taken under oath from the secretary of state himself.

“And nothing happened yesterday (Thursday) to indicate any serious breach of the code,” he said.

“Of course the minister’s responsible for his special advisor. He should have known the full extent of the contact the special advisor was having with Murdoch and News International, but once that was established then of course the special advisor resigned,” he added.

A report by the Public Administration Select Committee – chaired by senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkins – said the independent adviser on the ministerial code should be given the power to launch an investigation without being requested to do so by the prime minister.

The report from, 14 March this year, said: “The independent adviser should be empowered to instigate his own investigations.

“The Prime Minister could do this on his own initiative, without any need for legislation, but placing the post on a statutory footing would be preferable.”

Observation:

For those who celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee hope all of you enjoyed it which to some of us is a life time that may or may not come again. So far we have from a Labour Party point of view must of us will share our leader’s view calling for Jeremy Hunt to go.

Opposition MPs knocked the stuffing out of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday after dramatically summoning him to Parliament for an interrogation about Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s ties to the Murdoch empire.

The PM stormed red-faced into the chamber after Speaker John Bercow granted Labour’s demand for an urgent statement about Mr Hunt’s role in News Corporation’s BSkyB takeover bid.

Mr Cameron had to cut short a local election campaign visit to Buckinghamshire to explain why he had not ordered an inquiry into Mr Hunt’s behaviour.

Labour has accused Mr Hunt of using his special adviser Adam Smith’s resignation over his correspondence with Murdoch lobbyist Frederic Michel to wash his hands of the issue.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband called for Mr Hunt to go as he is responsible for Mr Smith’s actions and is “in clear breach” of the ministerial code.

Mr Miliband has repeatedly called on the PM get his independent conduct advisor Sir Alex Allan to start a probe but Mr Cameron said that he’d wait until after Mr Hunt gives evidence to the Leveson inquiry.

Lord Leveson has previously said it isn’t his job to judge Mr Hunt for breaking the ministerial code.

“Lord Justice Leveson is doing his job and it’s time the PM did his,” Mr Miliband said.

“We need a government that stands up for families not the rich and powerful.

“If Mr Hunt is that clueless about what was going on around him then he should be sacked anyway.

David Cameron is defending the indefensible, protecting the jobs of his Cabinet while hundreds of thousands across the country are losing theirs.

“He is too close to a powerful few and out of touch with everybody else.”

But the PM tried sweep it under the carpet.

“It’s a serious issue but not as serious as the Eurozone, jobs and the national debt,” Mr Cameron blustered.

The interesting bit now is why has Jeremy Hunt not declared a conflict of interest so far the answer may just lay with the idea within 25 minutes of Hunt completing his evidence before Leveson, did Cameron decide there was no case for referring Hunt to the independent adviser on the Ministerial code who was specifically appointed to take such cases as this outside the arena of heated political emotions? Shades, one might add, of John Yates deciding in just a few hours that there was no case in 2008 for re-opening the inquiry into phone-hacking at News International. Obviously Cameron, after a string of continuing PR disasters, has a strong vested interest in preventing a forced resignation of one of his closest Ministers. But should the sole prerogative for deciding on referral rest with Cameron alone when he has such a conflict of interest.

As bad as Labour was in regards to MPs expenses at least they took disciplinary action against those individuals in concern and yes some Tory ministers and peers were involved so next time the phase is used We’re All In It Together let us all stand up and say No We’re Not as it is the code word for the Big Society and it’s away of saying let get things done on the cheap.

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