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Ministerial Code: Enforcement

Volume 698: debated on Thursday 8 July 2021

Ministers are personally responsible for deciding how to act and conduct themselves in the light of the code, and for justifying their actions and conduct to Parliament and the public. The Prime Minister is the ultimate judge of the standards required and the appropriate consequences of a breach of those standards.

Sadly, the Government have shown time and again that they cannot be trusted to work within the system as it stands. Will the Government commit to placing the ministerial code on a statutory footing and give the adviser on Ministers’ interests powers to instigate his own investigations?

We think it is the right thing, in the context of our constitution, that the ministerial code and its enforcement and expectations sit with the Prime Minister, because he is, appropriately, the appointer of the Executive and is accountable to the sovereign for that. That is the constitutional set-up that we are talking about, so we think it is the right thing for the code to reflect that and therefore not be based on a statutory system. I add that the Prime Minister appointed Lord Geidt recently as the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests and spoke with him about the second point that the hon. Lady raised—whether there might be initiation for that adviser. The Prime Minister has set out his response to the recommendation that there might be the ability to advise the PM on the initiation of investigations.