Freebies loophole set to close under proposals for new Westminster standards regime
Boris Johnson would have to come clean about details of his free luxury holidays under proposals for a new Westminster standards regime to be unveiled tomorrow.
Mr Johnson and other Ministers would have to disclose the value of free holidays – not just who provided it.
The call is expected to come in a report from the Commons’ standards committee setting out proposed changes to the MPs’ code of conduct.
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister was accused of using a loophole to avoid revealing the cost of a free stay at a Spanish villa by not declaring it in the MPs’ register of interests.
Mr Johnson and other Ministers would have to disclose the value of free holidays – not just who provided it
Instead, Mr Johnson declared the holiday at the villa, owned by the family of government colleague Lord (Zac) Goldsmith, in the Ministers’ register which did not require him to reveal the value.
But in reforms set to be unveiled tomorrow, the Commons’ standards is expected to suggest that Ministers should declare their outside interests in both registers in future.
A source said the committee could not demand that Ministers fall into line but was requesting that the two registers were ‘more aligned’ in future.
Mr Johnson declared that the villa outside Marbella, which reportedly costs up to £25,000 a week to rent, had been ‘provided free of charge by the Goldsmiths’.
Number 10 has already insisted that the MP had followed all transparency rules and that Commons’ standards commissioner Kathryn Stone agreed that his family holiday ‘does not require a separate Commons registration’.
Sources say the standards committee will also set out options for a new appeals system for MPs accused of breaking Commons rules in the wake of the extraordinary row over a damning report which found ex-Tory MP Owen Paterson guilty of paid advocacy.
Allies of Mr Paterson, who quit the Commons earlier this month after a failed bid by Mr Johnson to block the standards report, say he was denied the right to an appeal.
Standards committee sources have denied that but tomorrow, the committee is expected to propose options for a new appeal system – potentially to involve a panel of a lawyer, Ms Stone and a senior MP to be appointed by the Speaker.
Sources said it would also call for a ban on MPs being paid to work as consultants on parliamentary procedure.
Labour MP Chris Bryant, the standards committee chairman, declined to comment ahead of the publication of the report tomorrow.