Labour MP Steve Reed has written to Michael Gove asking him to confirm whether ministers threatened to cut funding for MP’s constituencies if they did not back the vote to block the suspension of Owen Paterson.
The shadow secretary of state for communities and local government called on the levelling up secretary to bemore open about the criteria for regeneration funding so that it would not be possible for “ministers to corruptly seek to influence decisions in order to coerce MPs”.
It comes following reports in the Financial Times that some backbenchers were told “they would lose funding for their constituency” if they failed to toe the line.
Sir Geoffrey Cox
Meanwhile, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has written to standards commissioner Kathryn Stone asking her for “guidance on beginning a formal investigation” over claims Sir Geoffrey Cox “broke the rules” by using his parliamentary office for his second job offering legal advice.
The Times reported that the former attorney general, who has faced criticism over his outside earnings, used his Westminster office to participate remotely to advise the British Virgin Islands in a corruption probe launched by the Foreign Office.
Conservative MP and QC Sir Geoffrey has earned hundreds of thousands of pounds for his work with the islands, while allegations have surfaced that he was based in the Caribbean earlier this year while using lockdown proxy voting rules to continue to have his say in the Commons.
Ms Rayner said in her letter that the MP’s code of conduct was “very clear” that elected representatives ensure that “any facilities and services provided from the public purse is… always in support of their parliamentary duties” and “should not confer any… financial benefit on themselves”.
She added: “The member has clearly broken this rule based on the media reports we have seen.
“Members must be clear that they cannot use the estate for private financial gain and where there is such a stark conflict with public interest, they must face substantial consequences.”