Whether he has had discussions with the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests on declarations of interest by the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.
There is an established regime in place for the declaration and management of private interests held by Ministers, as is set out in the ministerial code. Preliminary discussions have been held with the Foreign Secretary, in consultation with the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests, to ensure that all interests are managed appropriately.
Since the Foreign Secretary was last in office, he has been working for a Chinese state enterprise that was sanctioned by the US Government and blacklisted for bribery by the World Bank. The Foreign Secretary was paid by the Chinese company to promote the building of a port in Sri Lanka, a country which has itself been accused of war crimes and where, since the end of the civil war in 2009, tens of thousands of disappeared people have still not been found. Does the Minister agree that the British people have the right to know when their Foreign Secretary has been employed by the Chinese Government?
I do not recognise the hon. Lady’s characterisation of the Foreign Secretary’s employment history. What I would say is that there is a thorough process in place through the ministerial code whereby the independent adviser publishes statements on Ministers’ relevant interests. Yesterday, I met the independent adviser for the first time to speak in general terms about his role, and work is under way on the next list to include the relevant interests of newly appointed Ministers—I think there are about 18 of them. The Government’s position on China remains unchanged. We believe in engaging directly and robustly in the UK national interest.
When Lord Cameron, the public face of Greensill, was in the room where it happened—when key decisions were made, and attending board meetings regularly—there is a perception that he was part of Greensill’s inner circle. Has the independent adviser assessed whether Lord Cameron was considered a shadow director during his time at Greensill?
The Foreign Secretary has accounted for his conduct in relation to Greensill Capital, and independent reviews by the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists and the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments confirm that no rules were broken. His ennoblement was also approved by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. I have referred to the process that is under way with the independent adviser for all new Ministers and the updates that will be forthcoming in due course from him. That is all I can say on the matter.
I welcome my old friend and sparring partner, John Glen, to his post. Questions have been raised about whether all benefits in kind received by the Foreign Secretary while he acted as a lobbyist for Greensill Capital have been properly declared. Will the Minister confirm whether his tax affairs were examined and considered by the House of Lords Appointments Commission before approving his appointment? If not, will the Government now investigate to see if all such matters, including any use of offshore trusts, were properly declared and taken into account before the appointment was made?
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kind words—it is indeed good to follow him to the Cabinet Office brief. I will not comment on media speculation, but I acknowledge and thank him for his letter of yesterday. Lord Cameron’s appointment followed all the established processes for both peerages and ministerial appointments. The ennoblement was approved by the House of Lords Appointments Commission in the usual way, and that included a check with His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Details of the way in which HOLAC works with HMRC are published on gov.uk.
I want to ask about an angle of the matter mentioned by my hon. Friend Siobhain McDonagh. The Foreign Secretary received fulsome praise from the China Harbour Engineering Company for his role in promoting the Port City Colombo project in Sri Lanka. Can the Minister tell the House who the ultimate client was when the Foreign Secretary received payment from KPMG Sri Lanka for his role in promoting that project? Was it the Sri Lankan Government or the China Harbour Engineering Company, which is owned by the Chinese state?
That is a matter not for me but for the processes that I have set out, which have been complied with. I believe that Lord Cameron has made some comments with respect to those matters.