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Allegations of Impropriety in Public Life

Volume 728: debated on Wednesday 22 February 2023

2. What assessment he has made of the implications for his Department’s work on strengthening the Union of allegations of impropriety in public life. (903684)

3. What assessment he has made of the implications for his Department’s work on strengthening the Union of allegations of impropriety in public life. (903685)

The UK is one of the most successful political and economic unions in the world. Our collective strength means that we are better able to tackle big problems such as the cost of living, lead the international response against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, grow our economy and deliver freeports in Scotland.

Last month, the then Tory party chairman was sacked when it was revealed that he had allegedly attempted to hide his multi-million pound tax settlement with His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs after failing to properly declare income. That is not to mention partygate and various other scandals. Does the Secretary of State think that a Tory Government in Westminster who are mired in sleaze will strengthen or weaken our Union of the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister put integrity at every level in this Government when he came in, and he acted decisively in appointing an independent ethics adviser. When he received the report on the incident the hon. Gentleman refers to, he acted immediately.

In Scotland and across the UK, Parliament is being dragged down by Tory and SNP sleaze and impropriety. In Holyrood, Committees have been ignored, processes have been run over roughshod, and the responsibility to be truly accountable to both Parliaments, the press and the public has been ignored by Ministers of both Governments. Does the Secretary of State not agree that we need a reformed and renewed constitution across the country that is fit for a democratised United Kingdom?

I did not catch all of that, but I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave earlier. There is a ministerial code that sets standards of behaviour for Ministers, and Ministers are personally responsible for how they conduct themselves. Ultimately, the Prime Minister is the judge and I think he is a man of integrity. I trust him to make the right decisions.

Controversial, expensive and barely afloat, the SNP Government in Scotland have wasted £500 million of taxpayers’ money on two ferries that do not work. Does my right hon. Friend agree there should be an urgent inquiry so that Scottish voters can have faith in the way that Holyrood uses their money?

I warmly congratulate the Secretary of State and the Government on what they are doing to strengthen the Union, whether it is the £220,000 they are forking out to the former Prime Minister for his legal fees, the disgraceful financial arrangements around the chair of the BBC, the bullying allegations, the tax affairs or the Prime Minister’s second fixed penalty notice. The Prime Minister said he would fix Tory sleaze once and for all. How does the Secretary of State think he is getting on with that?

As I said, the Prime Minister appointed an ethics adviser, and he has acted decisively on everything brought forward to him to date. I have full confidence in the Prime Minister, in his integrity and in the decisions he will make.