Latest updates: Lord Geidt, the new independent adviser on ministers’ interests, is ‘in the process’ of receiving papers for publication
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Here are the main points from Lord Geidt’s evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee earlier. It was the first time he has spoken in public since his appointment, and he probably went some way to persuading MPs that he would take a reasonably robust approach to the job. For example, when Labour’s John McDonnell put it to him that Boris Johnson was “a prime minister who does not recognise the umpire”, Geidt did not try to dispute this assessment. Instead he just stressed that he was new in the job and that he was going to see how things worked out.
Here are the main points.
I’m determined that [the new register] should be published by the end of this month. Public confidence, I think in my judgment, demands that this list be published without further delay.
The publication of the list of interests will include the prime minister. And of course, as part of my appointment, I have been asked to make an inquiry on the facts of the circumstances of the refurbishment of the flat at Downing Street and to advise the prime minister on his declaration of interests so that by the time we get to the end of the month we will have that declaration and alongside that I will report, and I will do so in a timely fashion – in other words simultaneously – a report that gives the necessary context to the declaration of ministers interests.
I sought assurances that the terms of reference might be amended to take account of this capacity to initiate inquiries, which my predecessor did not enjoy.
And the further assurance that I received, and with enthusiasm by the prime minister, was that, once we had gone through the period of causing an investigation to take place, I would be able to cause that advice to be published and, critically, in a timely manner.
Where, in the assessment of the independent adviser, he believes an allegation about a breach of the code might warrant further investigation, he will raise the issue confidentially with the prime minister.
Lord Geidt says the ‘enhanced terms of reference’ for his role include the ability to publish investigations in a timely manner, but that’s not exactly what they say: pic.twitter.com/AriM1R2TaG
Geidt says ‘would plan to contribute actively to the maintenance of the integrity of the office of PM’.
That’s already a bit intriguing. Suggests he sees the role as watchdog for ministers, not just as investigator in chief.
Not quite – he has assurances about his expectation of powers to be able to do 1 and 2.
But he is going very strong on how he sees the next while as a test of whether this ‘delivers’ public confidence and if not he has a ‘license’ to recommend further changes
Which is good https://t.co/8Z0M41Fjjm
More impt stuff here from Geidt.
He is immersing himself in Min Code and its purpose.
His criteria for requesting inquiries is going to be based on whether person ‘on the street’ would see a problem with ministers behaviour.
In the Commons, in a statement to MPs, Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, has apologised on behalf of the government over the killing of 10 innocent civilians during an army operation in Northern Ireland in 1971. An inquest this week determined that nine of the dead were killed by soldiers using unjustified force. Lewis told MPs:
I want to put on record the government’s acknowledgement of the terrible hurt that has been caused to the families of Francis Quinn, Father Hugh Mullan, Noel Phillips, Joan Connolly, Daniel Teggart, Joseph Murphy, Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr, and John McKerr.
I also want to pay tribute to the great patience with which these families have conducted themselves during their determined campaign, which has lasted for almost 50 years. The prime minister is writing personally to the families, and expressed his deep regret to the first and deputy first ministers of Northern Ireland yesterday and has apologised unreservedly on behalf of the state.