Ministerial Code

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 26th April 2021.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 3:35 pm, 26th April 2021

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question.

In his foreword to the “Ministerial Code”, the Prime Minister says:

“To…win back the trust of the British people, we must uphold the very highest standards of propriety…No misuse of taxpayer money and no actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The precious principles of public life enshrined in this document—integrity, objectivity, accountability, transparency, honesty and leadership in the public interest—must be honoured at all times”.

Well, this UK Tory Government is failing on all counts. They are riddled with conflicts of interest and allegations of corruption. Indeed, 37% of the public think the Prime Minister is corrupt—53% think that in Scotland—and that is before getting into the latest on what the Prime Minister is alleged to have said, which is that he would rather see bodies pile up in their thousands than order a third lockdown. Despicable, cruel and callous. Comments not befitting the office of Prime Minister.

Transparency International’s “Track and Trace” report raised serious questions on 73 Government contracts worth £3.7 billion. Of those, 24 personal protective equipment contracts, worth £1.6 billion, were handed to those with known political connections, with a further £536 million on testing services. We need to know who has benefited and what their links are to Ministers, especially in the light of the VIP lane that the National Audit Office identified as a risk. People on that list were 10 times more likely to win a contract. Transparency International identified the VIP lane as potentially a

“systemic and partisan bias in the award of PPE contracts.”

Will the Minister stop hiding behind commercial confidentiality and publish in full the details of those VIP contracts, along with who recommended them? It is our money and we have a right to know. Will he also finally publish the updated register of Ministers’ interests?

From the contracts for the Health Secretary’s pub landlord to the cosy chumocracy of the Greensill Capital affair, the casual text messages between the Prime Minister and Sir James Dyson promising to “fix” tax issues, apparently in exchange for ventilators that we never even got, and now questions over the Prime Minister’s funding for feathering his Downing Street nest, does the Minister agree that there is a clear pattern of behaviour and it absolutely stinks? The UK Tory Government are about to prorogue the House to duck further scrutiny. In the absence of an independent adviser to investigate Ministers, we can no longer trust them to investigate themselves; that much is clear. Will the Minister for the Cabinet Office instead instruct a full independent public inquiry to get to the bottom of the sleekit, grubby cabal in charge of the UK?