Government Tells Bryant to Shove his ‘Respect’ Principle Proposals



Government Tells Bryant to Shove his ‘Respect’ Principle Proposals


Yesterday it emerged the government’s dropped plans to limit MPs’ earnings from second jobs following the Geoffrey Cox row last year. Beyond their opposition to this proposed reform, Guido spots the government has also stuck two fingers up at another proposal from Chris Bryant – to add “respect” to the parliamentary behaviour code, to “demonstrate anti-discriminatory attitudes and behaviours through the promotion of anti-racism, inclusion and diversity”. All very wet…

Looking through the government’s response, Guido notes Stephen Barclay and Mark Spencer have strongly rejected the proposal on the grounds of free speech:

“we think it is of overarching importance to emphasise tolerance of different viewpoints and protect free debate when considering any changes.

We would not want to stifle legitimate debate on politically contentious issues which are important to our democracy – as an indirect consequence of the proposed new requirement for ‘anti-discriminatory attitudes’ or demonstrating ‘inclusion and diversity’. This could have a chilling effect on free speech on contentious and polarised political issues. This has recently been illustrated in the Lords, in the controversy over the role of the Lords Standards Commissioner in relation to a complaint made against four peers for comments they made in a debate. Even if a Members’ views or opinions are not in scope of the standards process, such a provision risks generating partisan complaints that could ultimately discourage Members’ free speech on highly contentious matters of public policy.”

This point is something supported by the Free Speech Union, who submitted evidence as part of the consultation arguing against adding the ‘respect’ principle, which would “attempt to regulate the ‘attitudes’ of MPs, i.e., their views and opinions.” Presumably it would also prevent Boris from correctly calling out Starmer’s role in the CPS’s failure to prosecute Jimmy Saville…

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