Labour demands inquiry into comments by Business Secretary about Parliamentary standards watchdog

Labor called for an investigation into Kwasi Kwarteng’s public speculation about the future of parliament’s norm-guardian.

Economy Secretary Kwarteng appeared to suggest that Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone should consider her position following the dispute over Owen Paterson.

Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner has written to Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser asking for an investigation into the economics minister’s statements.

When asked if Ms. Stone should resign, Kwasi Kwarteng said she should “decide her position.”

His comments came before the government was forced to turn around to form a new committee to investigate Mr. Paterson’s case and the broader system of norms.

On Sky News the Economy Secretary said: “I think it is difficult to see the future of the Commissioner given that we are reviewing the process and we are tilting and trying to reform this whole process, but it is up to the Commissioner to to decide on their position. “

Pressed on what he meant by “decide your position”, Mr. Kwarteng said: “It’s up to you to do that.

“I mean, it’s up to everyone who has passed judgment and people have tried to change that, to look at their position, that’s a natural thing, but I’m not saying they should step down.”

In a letter to Lord Geidt, Mr Johnson’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Ms. Rayner suggested that Mr Kwarteng’s comments could amount to harassment of an official.

“It is disgusting that the Secretary of Commerce is using this totally corrupt process to harass the independent parliamentary commissioner,” said Ms. Rayner.

“This behavior has no place in our democracy. A cabinet minister publicly threatening the position of an employee who serves the houses of parliament and upholds our democratic processes is a fundamental violation of ministerial law and is a lazy way for anyone to behave in any area of ​​life. “

She suggested that Mr Kwarteng could violate a section of the Code that requires ministers “to treat all those they come in contact with considerate and respect” and that working relationships with civil servants, ministerial and parliamentary colleagues and Parliament officials “adequate and adequate”.

Earlier, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, reprimanded Mr. Kwarteng. “It was not a good time for the house, it was a very, very difficult time for everyone,” said the spokesman.

“What I would say is that I appeal to members – whether they are foreign ministers or whoever – please, staff in this House should not be named, they have no right of reply or the opportunity to defend themselves. ”

Downing Street was not addressed as to whether Mr Johnson believed Mrs Stone should resign. The official spokesman for the prime minister said: “That is entirely up to you.”

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