News

William Wragg's honeytrap crisis, and is Speaker Hoyle under threat? - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 29

12 Apr 2024
©Patryk Kosmider / Adobe Stock
©Patryk Kosmider / Adobe Stock

This week we are joined by former House of Commons Clerk, Paul Evans, to discuss William Wragg’s fall from grace following a ‘honeytrap sting’. What does it tell us about the vulnerabilities public officials face in the digital age, and the complex interplay between personal conduct and public service?

Numerous press reports suggest the Government may support another cross-party attempt to refer the conduct of the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, and the Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer MP, to the Privileges Committee over claims of improper coercion before the Opposition Day debate on Gaza last month. Could the Speaker survive an investigation into his conduct and how would the process work?

Fresh evidence has come to light suggesting Paula Vennells, former Chief Executive of the Post Office, may have knowingly misled MPs when she appeared before Select Committees looking into events at the company. Liam Byrne MP, Chair of the Business and Trade Select Committee, says he’s exploring all the options available to investigate and if necessary sanction her. But what are the options available?

Northern Ireland has experienced a political earthquake with the news that DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson MP has been charged with historical sexual offences. But what does the news mean for Westminster where the debate about how to manage such situations – balancing the rights of the accused with the safety of the parliamentary community – remains unresolved?

And we ask: where have all the All Party Parliamentary Groups gone? New research by MySociety shows that in the last month there has been a 39% reduction in the number of APPGs following changes in the registration rules designed to enhance transparency and accountability. Have the APPGs really stopped working or have they, as investigative journalist Peter Geoghegan suggests, just been rebadged as informal parliamentary liaison groups?

Parliament Matters is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Parliament Matters is supported by a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a Quaker trust which engages in philanthropy and supports work on democratic accountability.

Profile photo of Paul Evans

Paul Evans CBE

Paul Evans worked as a Clerk in the House of Commons for nearly forty years, retiring in 2019 as Clerk of Committees responsible for the House's select committees. He was made a CBE in 2019 for services to Parliament. During his career in the House of Commons he held a number of posts including Clerk of the Journals and Principal Clerk of the Table Office.

He is a member of the Hansard Society and was Chair of the Study of Parliament Group from 2003-05. He has published a number of works on Parliament including the Dods Handbook of House of Commons Procedure.

Hansard Society

mySociety

Democracy for Sale (Substack)

CBC News (Canada)

Please note, this transcript is automatically generated. There are consequently minor errors and the text is not formatted according to our style guide. If you wish to reference or cite the transcript copy below, please first check against the audio version above. Timestamps are provided above each paragraph.

00:00:00:00 - 00:00:31:06 You are listening to Parliament Matters, a Hansard Society Production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Learn More at hansardsociety.org.uk/pm. Welcome to Parliament Matters, the podcast about the institution at the heart of our democracy, Parliament itself. I'm Ruth Fox. And I'm Mark D’Arcy. Coming up, torn to rags. A fortnight ago, he reached the dizzying heights of being a Parliament Matters guest. 00:00:31:08 - 00:00:59:03 Now he's a parliamentary pariah. What next for William Wragg? Will they, won't they? Dare they? If the government does back a motion to investigate the Speaker's conduct, is that the end for Sir Lindsay Hoyle? Former Commons clerk Paul Evans drops by to ponder an emerging crisis and the mystery of the disappearing All-Party Parliamentary groups. Have they really gone, or have they just gone underground? 00:00:59:05 - 00:01:27:19 But first William Wragg. What to say about this? This is quite extreme. As Ruth was saying, two weeks ago, William Wragg was a guest on this program talking about ...

Subscribe to Parliament Matters

Use the links below to subscribe to the Hansard Society's Parliament Matters podcast on your preferred app, or search for 'Parliament Matters' on whichever podcasting service you use. If you are unable to find our podcast, please email us here.

News / Democracy is in danger, warns Theresa May - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 35

In a powerful Churchill Attlee Lecture commemorating the Hansard Society's 80th anniversary, former Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a stark warning about the state of democracy. She expressed grave concerns about the waning trust in democratic institutions, particularly among young people.

17 May 2024
Read more

Events / The inaugural Churchill-Attlee Democracy Lecture, given by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP

To mark the Hansard Society’s 80th anniversary, we have launched the Churchill-Attlee Democracy Lecture in honour of our first members, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee. The inaugural lecture was given by former Prime Minister the Rt Hon Theresa May MP. All proceeds from ticket sales go to our 80th Anniversary Appeal. Date & location: Tuesday 14 May 2024, 7:00-8:30pm Westminster £10 tickets are now available for an online recording of the event.

14 May 2024
Read more

News / Is the Conservative Party falling apart? - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 34

Following the local election results, are we now in zombie Parliament territory? With no immediate general election in sight what can be achieved in Westminster before MPs finally make their rendezvous with the voters? We talk to Professor Tim Bale about defeat, defections and the internal dynamics of the Conservative Party.

10 May 2024
Read more

News / Post Office Horizon scandal: What is Parliament doing about it? - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 33

Should Parliament simply overturn the convictions of postmasters caught up in the Post Office Horizon scandal? That’s what the Government proposes to do through the Post Office (Horizon system) Offences Bill. But quashing of convictions is normally a matter for the courts. Some MPs have misgivings about setting a constitutional precedent as well as practical concerns about how the Bill will be implemented. We talk to the Chair of the Justice Select Committee, Sir Bob Neill MP.

03 May 2024
Read more

News / Is AI set to destroy trust in elections? Tackling misinformation in politics & Parliament, with top fact checker Full Fact's Chris Morris - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 32

The emerging role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in shaping political discourse is a potential game changer. It has the capacity to fabricate fake interviews and manipulate images, all of which could mislead voters and disrupt the democratic process. But could it affect the results of our elections? We talk to Chris Morris, the head of factchecking organisation, Full Fact, about the threats posed by these technologies, the potential scale of misinformation in politics, and the measures politicians and political parties need to take to counteract them.

30 Apr 2024
Read more