Major is shaken by Nolan backlash

Tory MPs furious at idea of revealing earnings

BY DONALD MACINTYRE

Political Editor

John Major was last night confronted with a destabilising backlash from his own backbenchers against the Nolan committee's proposals for outside scrutiny of Commons conduct and full declaration by MPs of their outside interests.

The full scale of entrenched Tory backbench hostility to the committee's far-reaching plans for reducing Commons "sleaze" was exposed in an acrimonious debate after the Prime Minister had resisted Labour demands to come out publicly in favour of the recommendations.

Sir Edward Heath was cast in the unusual role of champion to those Tory MPs normally most hostile to the former Prime Minister when he attacked the Nolan proposals for the Commons and insisted: "There is such a thing as the privacy of the individual." In defence of the Commons' centuries- old system of total self-regulation, Sir Edward, Father of the House, cited Commons action in the scandal over corruption by the architect John Poulson in the Seventies and the recent "cash for questions" as evidence that its own disciplinary procedures were swift and satisfactory.

Sir Edward insisted that public unease was much less about the behaviour of MPs than it was on other aspects of national life. And with Lord Nolan and his committee on Standards in Public Life watching the debate from the public gallery, he added: "Lord Nolan is an admirable judge, but he seems to lack a certain worldliness."

The warm reception for Sir Edward came despite the latest row over the the proxy tabling of a legislative amendment by Sir Jerry Wiggin, MP for Weston-Super-Mare, which fuelled the demands yesterday from the Opposition to act with haste on all the main Nolan proposals.

As expected, David Hunt, the Minister of Public Service, made a series of announcements at the opening of the debate that the Government would be implementing most of the main Nolan recommendations covering ministers, civil servants and quangos - including the rule that ministers taking private-sector jobs would be subject to the same requirement as top civil servants seeking permission from an advisory committee.

But there were signs last night that ministers may consider postponing implementation of the two contentious Nolan proposals by turning the issue over to a senior Commons committee. At least one prominent Tory backbencher has indicated he is prepared to resign rather than continue in Parliament and declare his full earnings.

Tory backbenchers urged Mr Hunt not to take precipitate action on the Nolan proposals for disclosure of earnings from outside sources and a new parliamentary commissioner to investigate allegations of conduct and then report the outcome to the Commons Privileges Committee. In one intervention Anthony Steen, MP for South Hams, drew cheers from his own side when he declared: "I deeply resent the inference in Nolan that all of us are crooks."

The fierce backbench reaction poses a dilemma for Mr Major. He could face down a backbench revolt by insisting that ministers and the rest of the Government payroll join a large majority of the Labour Party in approving the two Nolan recommendations when the Commons eventually has to vote on the issue. But doing so risks fuelling unrest among a sizeable minority of backbenchers in the run-up to November when he could be challenged for the leadership.

If he fails to take that course that delay could give Labour another potent weapon with which to attack the Government.

There were shouts of "yes" from the Tory benches when Tony Blair, the Labour leader, asked whether it was possible Mr Major would overrule the recommendations of the committee which he had himself established. But the Prime Minister declared it was a matter of courtesy to the Commons to listen to the debate before reaching a conclusion.

At the entrance to the Commons, Alan Duncan, Tory MP for Rutland and Melton asked Lord Nolan: "Don't you realise what you're doing? You could end by destroying all professional interests in Parliamentary life."

Commons report, page 10

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Humanities Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Humanities teacher required for ...

English Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIRED - Humbe...

Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: We are looking for a Qualified C...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits