In light of the numerous statements made by the Prime Minster to the House about his knowledge of events reported to have taken place in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office during the coronavirus lockdowns, events which both he and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have been issued fines by the Metropolitan Police for attending, the House will debate the Motion tabled in the name of Keir Starmer and which has the support of opposition party leaders.

Unfortunately, and rather predictably, it seems senior Tory Ministers are already working to block our motion today. 

The public knows what happened. The Prime Minister knows what happened. The Met police know what happened. But still his Ministers go on the radio and the TV every day to defend this mess of a Government – and now they’re working to block this investigation.

Our motion asks the Privileges Committee to investigate whether said statements made by the Prime Minster deliberately misled MPs, which would amount to contempt of Parliament.

The Privileges Committee is the appropriate committee to investigate as it polices the privileges of the Commons and has powers in relation to holding people in contempt of Parliament. It has existed in some form since 17th century to monitor the conduct of MPs and to investigate when asked to by the House.

The proceedings in the House of Commons, especially of this type, can be archaic and not very transparent to say the least. Here’s a useful little explainer about what the vote means today:

What is the Privileges Committee being asked to investigate?


The Prime Minister has made numerous statements to the House about his knowledge of events reported to have taken place in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office during the coronavirus lockdowns. The fact that he and the Chancellor have now been fined makes these statements highly questionable.


The Privileges Committee is being asked the investigate whether these statements were deliberately misleading. If they determine that they were, this would amount to contempt of Parliament.


What powers does the Privileges Committee have?


The Privileges Committee has wide-ranging powers including the ability to request documents from the Government as part of its inquiries – this could include the full Sue Gray report and photographs. It will report back to the House on its findings and can also recommend sanctions, including suspension or expulsion, if appropriate; these would then need to be agreed by the House.


Why would the investigation not start until after the police processes have concluded?


The police should be allowed to proceed with their investigations without any perceived impediment. At the same time, there are already questions about the important issue of whether the House has been misled and Members should take a decision immediately that this matter should be investigated as soon as is appropriate.


How long would the investigation take?


The length of the investigation is most appropriately determined by the Privileges Committee. The motion therefore does not specify when the committee should report by, but given the public interest, it would likely be concluded as quickly as possible.

Full text of the Motion: 

Keir Starmer

Ian Blackford

Ed Davey

Liz Saville-Roberts

Colum Eastwood

Caroline Lucas

Stephen Farry


That, this House;


(1) notes that, given the issue of fixed penalty notices by the police in relation to events in 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, assertions the Rt hon Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip has made on the floor of the House about the legality of activities in 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office under Covid regulations, including but not limited to the following answers given at Prime Minister’s Questions: 1 December 2021, that all guidance was followed in No. 10., Official Report vol. 704, col. 909; 8 December 2021 that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, Official Report vol. 705, col. 372; 8 December 2021 that I am sickened myself and furious about that, but I repeat what I have said to him: I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken, Official Report vol. 705, col. 372 and 8 December 2021 the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times, Official Report vol. 705, col. 379, appear to amount to misleading the House; and


(2) orders that this matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges to consider whether the hon Member’s conduct amounted to a contempt of the House, but that the Committee shall not begin substantive consideration of the matter until the inquiries currently being conducted by the Metropolitan Police have been concluded.

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