MPs pass motion calling for Truss and Kwarteng to have severance pay cut – LabourList

A Labour motion demanding that Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng lose a portion of their ministerial severance payments has been passed by MPs without division after Tory MPs abstained.

The opposition day motion, tabled today, states that the Commons “censures” the former Prime Minister and Chancellor for their “mismanagement of the economy”. It calls on the two MPs to waive “at least £6,000” of their severance payments.

Addressing the Commons this afternoon, Lisa Nandy said it was “obscene” that Truss and Kwarteng were in line to receive severance payments of £19,000 and £17,000 respectively given the economic turmoil caused by their disastrous ‘mini-Budget’.

Following the announcement of the mini-Budget by Kwarteng in September, the pound crashed to its lowest level to date against the dollar and government borrowing costs soared. Mortgage rates reached their highest level since the 2008 financial crisis in early October.

Recent Labour Party analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data found that more than 1.7 million mortgage holders are struggling with payments. Almost half of the respondents to the ONS survey reported that they have been worried in the past two weeks about changes to the interest rates on their mortgage.

The Shadow Levelling Up Secretary told MPs today: “I make no apology for coming to this House angry today. I am angry that this has been visited upon my constituents, and I am angry that this is a crisis that was made in Downing Street, and since this has happened. this government has not lifted a finger to help.”

She declared: “This is a housing crisis the likes of which we have not seen for a generation. And what’s caused it? Make no mistake, this is a Tory crisis created in Downing Street by a disastrous mini-Budget that crashed the economy and threw families up and down this country under the bus.”

“The government has a clear choice today. They can stand up for people whose hopes and dreams have been broken and shattered. Or they can stand with the former Prime Minister and former Chancellor who have profited from a situation that has left families across this country paying the price,” Nandy added.

Responding on behalf of the government, Lucy Frazer said ministerial departures are “part of the fabric of government”, telling MPs that the severance payments exist because of the “unpredictable nature of ministerial office”.

“Unlike in other employment context, there are no periods of notice, no consultation and no redundancy arrangements. The statutory entitlement has existed for several decades and been implemented by all governments over that period,” the government minister added.

Opposition day debates allow opposition parties to set the agenda, but motions passed are not binding. Boris Johnson regularly instructed his MPs to abstain on motions put forward by Labour while he was Prime Minister, a policy that his predecessor Theresa May also pursued, despite having a large majority.

But Chris Bryant intervened during Nandy’s speech to argue that there was no precedent for the government ignoring today’s motion, noting that, in every previous example of a censure motion, the government in question has “always sought to vote it down”.

The Labour MP told the Commons that censure motions in the past have resulted in MPs losing their salaries, resigning or governments falling, adding: “They can’t just pretend nothing’s happening today. They’ve either got to vote it down, and if they lose, they go.”

Truss announced that she was stepping down as Prime Minister last month after just six weeks in office amid the ongoing fallout from the mini-Budget. Kwarteng was sacked as Chancellor a week before Truss’ resignation.

The former Chancellor had faced criticism for not providing an Office for Budget Responsibility analysis of the government’s plans alongside the fiscal statement. The Bank of England was forced to take emergency action on several occasions following the mini-Budget in an attempt to calm the markets.

Below is the full text of the motion tabled by Labour.

Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner
Lisa Nandy
Sarah Owen
Thangam Debbonaire
Sir Alan Campbell

That this House censures the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Member for South West Norfolk, and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Member for Spelthorne, for their mismanagement of the economy while in office, which has resulted in an average increase of £500 per month in mortgage payments for families across the UK; and believes that, if they have not already done so, both Rt Hon Members should waive at least £6,000 of their ministerial severance payments.

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