Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests

Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons on 14th July 2022.

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Photo of Mike Kane Mike Kane Shadow Minister (Transport)

Whether he is taking steps to appoint an independent adviser on Ministers’ interests.

Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

The Government were sorry to receive Lord Geidt’s resignation and are grateful for his work in the role. Any future appointment will need to be a matter for the new Administration, given that the adviser is a personal adviser to the Prime Minister and is appointed for a five-year fixed term.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

That could mean more delays, then. In two months’ time, we will have a new Prime Minister, who will need to appoint a new Cabinet, which in turn will need to appoint a new team of Ministers. There has been a lot of talk of a fresh start, but does the Minister agree that with no ethics adviser to advise the new Prime Minister on the nuances and importance of the ministerial code, all we will see is wallpapering over the cracks? When will the new ethics adviser be appointed?

Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

That is obviously a matter for the new Prime Minister, but the hon. Lady should not labour under the misapprehension that the maintenance of standards and ethical advising is wanting in Government. In the absence of the adviser, that obviously falls to the various permanent secretaries in each Department, who are in any event the first line of assessment for many of those questions. As I hope the hon. Lady will never find out, when one becomes a Minister, one of the key things to do is ensure that the permanent secretary in the Department is clear about one’s own personal interests, and maintain a dialogue with them about the standards with which one conducts the job.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

Talking of the highest possible standards, will the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster confirm whether there have ever been Cabinet-level discussions about the conduct of Christopher Pincher before or since his appointment as Deputy Chief Whip, and about other MPs who may have conduct records that deserve investigation?

Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

I am afraid that I cannot tell the hon. Lady what we discuss in detail at Cabinet, but Cabinet is minuted and those minutes are available for public contemplation.