Minister: MPs must take personality responsibility for how they behave

·2-min read
Minister: MPs must take personality responsibility for how they behave

A Cabinet minister has insisted MPs must take “personal responsibility” and choose how they act, amid fresh questions over sleaze in Westminster.

Michael Ellis was heckled by opposition MPs throughout his 49-minute appearance in the House of Commons to explain and defend the Government’s handling of the Chris Pincher case.

The Cabinet Office minister faced questions about Boris Johnson’s knowledge of concerns raised against Mr Pincher, the MP for Tamworth who last week quit as the Government’s deputy chief whip following claims he groped two men at a private members’ club.

Mr Ellis, in his initial reply to an urgent question from Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, detailed the bodies and institutions in place to try and uphold standards in public life.

He added: “No system can replace the fundamental importance of personal responsibility.

“We all know this to be true.

“Codes and rules and oversight bodies are there to guide us but we all ultimately in public life must choose for ourselves how to act.”

Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner (House of Commons/PA)
Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner (House of Commons/PA)

Ms Rayner said the “latest disturbing allegations about ministerial misconduct are all about abuse of power”.

She added: “The minister spoke about personal responsibility – well, the minister needs to remind the Prime Minister of his personal responsibility.”

Ms Rayner also asked: “When will this minister stop defending the indefensible and say enough is enough?”

Labour’s Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley) challenged Mr Ellis to say whether Mr Pincher “would have been able to get” a job if she had been deciding about appointments.

She said: “There’s always something that is meant to be for the standards for the public, that a minister stands there and leans on to try and get out of, basically telling untruths to public, allowing sycophancy rather than morality to be the reason why people are given their jobs.

“My final question to the minister is, if it had been me giving out those jobs, does he think the MP for Tamworth would have been able to get one?”

Mr Ellis replied: “I would expect (her) perhaps more than she would expect of me, and by that I mean, that I would expect her to act fairly.

“So I hope that answers her question.

“If she was in that position of responsibility to make decisions about appointments I would expect her to act fairly, full stop.”

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