Parliamentary Standards Bill

Charles Walker raises his concerns that the establishment of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will further diminish the role of MPs - who have been elected to represent the public's views in Parliament.

Mr. Walker: Over the past 17 years, whenever there has been a crisis of confidence in this country, Parliament has created a quango. We are now reaping what we have sown because we are creating a super-quango to regulate ourselves, and that is a retrograde and extremely worrying step. I say to the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) that of course the public are concerned when we seem to get on our high horse about sovereignty—

Mr. Straw
: The hon. Gentleman says that this body will be a super-quango. He may wish to describe it pejoratively as such, but may I remind him that on 10 June his own party leader actively supported its establishment?

Mr. Walker
: The Secretary of State makes my argument beautifully. This is a House matter, and I am raising my concerns as a Member of Parliament who is defending the sovereignty that goes with being an MP and that belongs to my constituents. I do not think that the British public really despise us because of our expenses—that situation is a manifestation of their frustrations; they despise us because we have become supine lickspittles, who are more concerned with sucking up to the Executive than with representing the public’s views in this place. We are in grave danger of handing—

The First Deputy Chairman
: Order. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman is going to continue with his remarks in relation to amendment 32.

Mr. Walker
: I just wish to support my Front-Bench colleagues in introducing their amendment. This is a very imperfect Bill—it is an appalling one—but at least they are trying to make it a little better and a little more tolerable.

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