Eight Norfolk MPs have voted in favour of approving an amendment to reform parliamentary standards, with one voting against and another choosing not to vote at all.

The motion would see a Tory-led panel consider reforming the disciplinary process, but will also stop former cabinet minister Owen Paterson from being immediately suspended for breaching rules on lobbying.

Mr Paterson was found to have repeatedly lobbied on behalf of two companies for which he was acting as a paid consultant — Randox and Lynn's Country Foods — earning himself £100,000 in the process.

He claimed the investigation was unfairly conducted and argued the manner in which it was carried out had played a “major role” in his wife Rose’s suicide last year.

%image(14412522, type="article-full", alt="Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson in the House of Commons, London, as MPs debated an amendment calling for a review of his case after he received a six-week ban from Parliament over an "egregious" breach of lobbying rules. Picture date: Wednesday November 3, 2021.")

Waveney MP Peter Aldous decided not to vote on the government's motion as it merged the review into the case of Mr Paterson.

Mr Aldous said: "There were very tragic circumstances that the latter part of the inquiry was being carried out against the backdrop of, but I reached the conclusion it had been a very thorough and comprehensive inquiry that had looked at all the factors and considerations and reached a conclusion I could understand.

"I am aware that Mr Paterson feels that he was denied natural justice, and there are aspects of the whole system that I think it is appropriate to look at.

"But I think the government made a mistake to come forward with a review of this particular case and it would have been far better if the two had been separated."

The vote was passed by a majority of 18 votes — 250 to 232 in approval of changing the system.

Despite a three line whip, 13 Tories voted against the motion and no vote was recorded by 98 others — including Mr Aldous.

The prime minister, who voted for the amendment, said paid lobbying in the Commons “is wrong” and those “who are found guilty of that should apologise and pay the necessary penalties”.

“But that is not the issue in this case or this vote that is before us,” the prime minister added.

Mr Paterson, the MP for North Shropshire, could have faced a possible by-election if the suspension had been approved.

“All I have ever asked is to have the opportunity to make my case through a fair process," he said.

“The decision today in parliament means that I will now have that opportunity.”

The government later announced it had changed its mind on the plans to overhaul the policing of the MP's conduct following backlash from Labour and some Tory MPs.

MPs must now vote again on Mr Paterson' recommended 30-day suspension.

Downing Street would not confirm the date of the vote, but announced it would be 'as soon as possible.'


Richard Bacon (Conservative - South Norfolk)

Duncan Baker (Conservative - North Norfolk)

George Freeman (Conservative - Mid Norfolk)

Brandon Lewis (Conservative - Great Yarmouth)

Jerome Mayhew (Conservative - Broadland)

Chloe Smith (Conservative - Norwich North)

Elizabeth Truss (Conservative - South West Norfolk)

James Wild (Conservative - North West Norfolk)


Clive Lewis (Labour - Norwich South)


Peter Aldous (Conservative - Waveney)