Stephen Morgan MP today voted to reform ministerial severance payments, which would have seen an end to the scandalous payments made to ministers under investigation for gross misconduct; those who have served in Government for only weeks and days; and ministers who return to Government shortly after their departure.
It comes as Labour analysis reveals that during the years of Tory political chaos in 2022/23, more than £933,000 was paid out to almost 100 ministers as a reward for crashing the economy, including almost £50,000 of payments to ministers who weren’t even eligible to claim them.
Under the current ‘loss of office’ rules, introduced by John Major’s government in 1991, ministers under the age of 65 are entitled to three months of their final salary when they leave their role, no matter how long they have served in their post or the circumstances of their departure.
Individuals who were forced to quit their jobs in 2022/23 after shameful conduct towards junior staff were also legally entitled to claim and keep three months of severance at their final salary level, all funded by the taxpayer.
Five former ministers have been handed severance worth more than £50,000 by mistake, having been aged over 65 at the time of their departure, including Nadine Dorries and Peter Bone.
Mr Morgan backed plans to ensure we can never again have a situation where ministers are profiting from the chaos they have created.
If Labour’s proposals were in place in 2022/23, and the age limit rules properly enforced, the total severance bill that year would have been cut by almost £380,000, or 40 per cent, and 75 of the 97 ministers would have seen their severance payments reduced by an average of £5,040.
Commenting, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:
”In Parliament today, Labour sought to change the rules on ministerial severance payments to stop the flagrant abuse of the system we have seen over the last few years.
“For those payments to be claimed at a time when Portsmouth was going through the worst cost-of-living crisis in generations was disgraceful.
“An incoming Labour Government will press ahead will these plans and reform the system for good”.
The Labour Party this week used an Opposition Day Debate to put forward a motion which would have required the government to set aside Parliamentary time for a Bill to reform the severance rules. Under the reforms proposed in the motion:
- Individuals would only be able to claim a quarter of their actual earnings as a minister over the previous twelve months, not a quarter of their final annual salary, preventing MPs who only served a few weeks on the front bench from claiming a full three months of salary;
- Individuals who return to a new job in government while still enjoying the benefit of their previous severance entitlement would be required to pay back the corresponding amount; and
- Individuals who leave their jobs while under investigation for gross misconduct or breaches of the ministerial code would not receive any severance payment at all unless and until they were cleared of those allegations by the relevant authority.