Kelvin Hopkins: Following on from that, what is the status of an adviser who is not really an adviser: someone who is with the Minister at all times; has apparent access to confidential discussions, confidential papers; goes everywhere with the Minister; and may be paid for, possibly even by a foreign power, but is not technically a specially adviser? This is the sort of case that we had with Adam Werritty. What do we do about that?
Mr Maude: Well, they are not advisers.
Kelvin Hopkins: Clearly, they have access to confidential discussions, confidential papers, and they may be paid for by outside organisations—another Government, for example. Surely, some concern has to be raised about this kind of adviser, even if they are not technically part of the special adviser team?
Mr Maude: I cannot comment on the specific case, which I was not remotely involved with, and I do not know the detail, but, clearly, confidential documents should only be shared with those who are entitled to see them.
Kelvin Hopkins: This went on for months, if not years, with Adam Werrity and nothing was done about it, until finally the whole thing was exposed. Isn’t it worrying that that kind of role might be carried on at an unofficial level, not as a special adviser?
Mr Maude: If there are concerns existing, they should be raised in the appropriate way. I do not think this is very mysterious. If there were concerns, there are plenty of ways in which they can be raised and surfaced. In a case of the sort you mentioned, if the permanent secretary has concerns, then the permanent secretary can and should raise it with the Minister and then, if they are not satisfied that things are being properly addressed, with the Head of the Civil Service, who can raise it with the Prime Minister. It is not as if there is no way of dealing with these things—there is.
Kelvin Hopkins: Well, in the Ministry of Defence, I do not know whether the Official Secrets Act had been signed by Adam Werritty, for example.
Mr Maude: No, nor do I.
Kelvin Hopkins: Isn’t it worrying that that could have carried on for so long without anybody doing anything about it?
Mr Maude: As I said, I cannot comment on the specifics—I am not familiar with them—and there is a perfectly good way of dealing with these things.
Paul Flynn: But isn’t it true that the mechanism that is there, and has been there for five years now, is that the Minister and the situation should have been reported to the independent adviser on the ministerial code? The independent adviser said that it should have been reported by him and he should have been investigating. He then resigned his office. Doesn’t it mean that recent events have shown that office has been degraded and politicised, particularly as a newly appointed adviser, who has no support and in whom this Committee has no confidence, has acted in collaboration with the Prime Minister in a political stunt last Wednesday?
Mr Maude: Well, I do not accept any of that, least of all your assertion that the report of your Committee suggested that the Committee had no confidence in him. That is not how I read the report of your Committee. It may be what you thought, but it is not what the Committee said.
Paul Flynn: Well, I suggest that you read it again. Read what the report said and read the minority report as well.
Chair: I do not think that the Committee said “no confidence”. It did not say that.
Paul Flynn: The Committee had a vote on whether he was a fit person to do the job, and the Committee voted, with its Conservative majority, that it did not have any—
Chair: We did not say he was not fit to do the job.
Paul Flynn: What did we say then? You remind me of the precise words.
Chair: I cannot remember, but we are dealing with special advisers and not the code today.
Paul Flynn: I do remember. That was the word, and I think I moved it. I did present it to him while he was being cross-examined and they were the words I used to him. I asked, “What if we decided that?” He said, “I would look at my position and possibly relinquish it.” He has not looked to his position; he has not relinquished it. He carries on, and then we had the pantomime of last Wednesday. When I wrote to Sir Alex Allan it took him three weeks to reply, but a letter was written on 13 June and a reply was received before 12 o’clock on 13 June.
Paul Flynn: That suggests a degree of political collaboration, doesn’t it? It does not suggest that this man is independent in any meaningful way.