All but one of Lincolnshire’s 10 MPs voted to block the suspension of Owen Paterson after he was found to have broken lobbying rules, but most are staying tight-lipped about their reasons.
A vote was held in the House of Commons on Wednesday for a shakeup of the parliamentary standards watchdog, which would have blocked the 30-day suspension of former minister Owen Paterson.
Owen Paterson was found to have broken parliament rules by using his position as an MP to benefit two companies he worked for, which he was paid £100,000 a year for alongside his base MP salary of £81,932.
The vote was backed by the majority of Conservatives, but government were forced into a U-turn after intense backlash and accusations of changing the rules to suit their own interests.
The U-turn prompted Paterson to resign as MP for North Shropshire, and the 65-year-old said in a statement on Thursday that he wanted a life outside “the cruel world of politics” as he continued to maintain his “innocence” in the lobbying row.
Nine of the ten MPs in Greater Lincolnshire voted in favour of the amendment, with Conservative Holly Mumby-Croft of Scunthorpe the only member to vote against her party.
The Lincolnite contacted all ten MPs in the region for their reasons behind the vote, and only two replied.
Mumby-Croft issued a statement on Thursday to say that she has “genuine sympathy” for Owen Paterson and his situation, but voting for a change in parliamentary standards was something she “couldn’t square.”
The statement reads: “Yesterday I broke a three-line whip and voted against the Government-backed Amendment on the Committee on Standard’s report on Owen Paterson.
“Many residents have asked what’s going on and I’m happy to explain. Beyond the headlines, I think there is a very valid argument that we need to balance the incredibly delicate and complicated Parliamentary standards system.
“It is also a very difficult case to look at on a human level, following the tragic death of Owen Paterson’s wife last year. Whilst I do not know Owen in person, I have genuine sympathy for what he has been, and is, going through.
“Whilst I can definitely see both sides, tying-up reform of the standards system with one particular case was something I couldn’t square. I also had concerns about the retrospective element. Yesterday was just not the right time.
“Oftentimes, our votes are simplified despite the nuances and technical elements behind them. I want to reassure residents that I will always do what I think is best for the Scunthorpe Constituency in Parliament.
MP for Cleethorpes Martin Vickers said: “Based on the evidence contained in the Standards Committee report Mr Paterson is guilty and should be punished.
“However the process for MPs does not allow for an appeal which every other citizen rightly has if they are threatened with losing their job.
“On that basis I supported the amendment but I must stress that it is not the case that this should be taken as a vote to ‘let-off’ as that is most definitely not the case.”
Mr Vickers then added to his statement after news broke of Owen Paterson’s resignation, saying that it was “always going to end in tears”.
“Given the weight of evidence it is almost certain the Committee proposed by the Government would have come to the same conclusion. This was always going to end in tears and Mr Paterson’s resignation is welcome.”
Among those who voted in favour but did not provide comment was Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, who found himself in hot water with the parliamentary watchdog last month, after it was found he failed to properly declare his ties to a family firm.
The following MPs were contacted by The Lincolnite both on the amendment vote itself and Owen Paterson’s subsequent resignation, but did not reply to either request:
- Karl McCartney – Lincoln
- Caroline Johnson – Sleaford & North Hykeham
- Matt Warman – Boston & Skegness
- Lia Nici – Great Grimsby
- Edward Leigh – Gainsborough
- Victoria Atkins – Louth & Horncastle
- Gareth Davies – Grantam & Stamford
- John Hayes – South Holland & The Deepings