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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 ...

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