Ministerial Code: Compliance

Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at on 23 November 2023.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Michael Shanks Michael Shanks Labour, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

What recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of compliance with the ministerial code.

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

The Prime Minister made it clear upon his appointment that he will lead a Government of integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level, and he is delivering on that promise.

Photo of Michael Shanks Michael Shanks Labour, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

The Minister, a few moments ago in answer to specific questions, said that this was not a matter for him. Of course, the problem with the ministerial code is that the public do not have confidence that it is actually being delivered. There is very little transparency around investigations and around referrals to the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests. With particular reference to Lord Cameron’s appointment, will the Minister commit to publishing all the correspondence with the ministerial adviser on the code, and any correspondence around the list he had to give to the permanent secretary on his interests prior to appointment?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

With the greatest respect, I do not think the hon. Gentleman understands that the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests has wide-ranging powers. Within two weeks of appointment, a Minister will have to fill in a form which was recently changed—two months ago—and has over 30 pages covering a wide range of aspects of their interests. There is then a process where the permanent secretary of the relevant Department comments on that and the independent adviser will then publish an update of relevant interests. This is a thorough process. I met the independent adviser yesterday. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he writes to the independent adviser to seek the correspondence he wishes.

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

When will the list of ministerial relevant interests next be published and will the interests of all the new Ministers be included in it?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I am not certain, but work is under way. There are, I think, 18 new Ministers. I think it will be a matter of weeks, but I will keep an eye on that. The independent adviser did not give me a date yesterday, but I will continue to work closely with him where I can.

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

We would appreciate it if that list could be published before Christmas at the latest, because it is incredibly important. Section 7.25 of the ministerial code prohibits Ministers from lobbying Government for a two-year period after they leave office. It does not, unfortunately, say anything about interests before they are put into office. Does the Minister understand that with trust in politicians at an all-time low, the perception of Lord Cameron being put into the role, having clearly been lobbying on behalf of hostile foreign interests, does nothing for the perception of politicians as trustworthy?

Photo of John Glen John Glen The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I just do not accept the hon. Lady’s view. I have set out in previous answers this morning that there is an established, thorough process that is constantly being updated. There are regular updates by the independent adviser. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Secretary of State in the Cabinet Office, my right hon. Friend Oliver Dowden, assures me that that update will be out before the end of this calendar year. That work will continue and I expect, and the independent adviser and the Prime Minister expect, the highest standards to apply. Where there are changes to an individual’s circumstances or interests, there is an urgent imperative to update the independent adviser.