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Local MP speaks out over standards row
11:30am Saturday 23rd June 2012 in News
Otley’s MP has weighed in on the national row over Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his handling of the BSkyB bid.
Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) has called on all three main political parties to back a recommendation to give greater power to the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministerial standards.
The recommendation, by the Public Administration Select Committee, would mean the adviser could launch his own investigations – something which currently can only be done by the Prime Minister.
Mr Mulholland (left) who sits on the committee, believes the change – along with other steps to ensure the adviser is fully independent – is needed to ensure any future allegations of breaches of the ministerial code of conduct are handled properly.
He said: “The current role of the independent ministerial adviser is in no way independent. He is appointed personally by the Prime Minister, is supported within the Cabinet Office and, crucially, cannot instigate his own investigations.
“The whole furore surrounding Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt could have been avoided had the independent adviser had the powers to instigate his own investigation, which I believe he would have done.
“To leave the power of launching an investigation in the hands of the Prime Minister or for a minister to refer themselves, which they are unlikely to do, is nonsensical.
“I have therefore urged all three leaders to come together and support the changing of the powers of the independent adviser to ensure a situation like the one we find ourselves in now is avoided in the future.”
Mr Hunt and the Government have been dogged by criticism of their handling of the £8 billion BSkyB takeover after details emerged of a memo from Mr Hunt to the Prime Minister, sent in late 2010, which showed that the Culture Minister was very much in favour of News Corporation’s bid.