My lips are sealed. I cannot reveal the interesting conclusion by a select committee report that will be published next week. It's on ACOBA - the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. This ramshackle body should restrict the abuse of former ministers, civil servants and generals selling their inside knowledge to the highest bidder. The decision of the select committee was a unanimous one. Regular readers of this blog will know my views on the iniquities of the revolving door.
Late breaking news is that former Minister for Everything in the last Government John Reid is on the board of G4S. They have benefited from his foresighted organising genius that hoped that sending troops into Helmand would would not lead to any shots being fired. The Guardian Diary have reminded us of John's new role.
The Public Adminstration Committee's conclusions are eagerly awaited by other committees keen to clean up lobbying. The Political and Constitutional Reform's Committee's call for stronger Government's regulation on lobbying abuse was not well publicised. I did a welcome interview with Andrew Neil on the Politics show. Apart from that there was little, or no, national publicity.
The Government promised to consider the reports in a written statement on the last day of parliament last Tuesday.
In May last year a newspaper report by JASON GROVES was published.
Weak rules policing the way former ministers take up lucrative jobs in the private sector put Britain at ‘high risk of corruption’, a damning report warned yesterday.
The study criticises the cosy system that is supposed to monitor the so-called ‘revolving door’ between government and big business.
It claims the rules – which have allowed a string of lucrative jobs for former ministers such as Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson to be simply rubberstamped – are so lax that they ‘undermine trust in government’.
Top jobs: Peter Mandelson has clinched a senior adviser role at investment bank Lazard, while Tony Blair works for JP Morgan Chase, among other well-paid roles
In addition, it shows more than half of all leading civil servants now take up well-paid jobs in the private sector after leaving Whitehall.
The report, by the respected campaign group Transparency International, warns that only a lifetime ban on lobbying might be enough to ease public concerns about the way ministers and officials in ‘high risk’ areas such as defence and health move seamlessly into top jobs.
Chandrashekhar Krishnan, of Transparency International, said: ‘The revolving door between government and business is spinning out of control.
‘There have been far too many cases of officials moving between the two in circumstances which suggest a serious conflict of interest. This has created an environment in which corruption risks are high.
‘We need a more robust system with greater transparency and tighter rules which can be properly enforced.’
The study highlights a string of cases where former ministers and civil servants have taken jobs in industries they were previously in charge of.
It says there are real risks that a senior official or minister might favour a company ‘with a view to ingratiating himself or herself with that company and thus opening up a path to future employment’.
It also warns that former ministers might be able to benefit commercially from information gained in public office.
'Cabs for hire': Former transport secretary Stephen Byers, former health secretary Patricia Hewitt and former defence secretary Geoff Hoon were suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party for 'bringing it into disrepute'
The findings were welcomed last night by Labour MP Paul Flynn, a member of the Commons public administration committee. He said: ‘The system of policing the revolving door is a scandal that is potentially worse than the expenses scandal – and certainly more damaging to the country.’
Under the existing rules, ministers and top civil servants have to notify the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) of any new jobs taken up within two years of leaving office.
The committee, which comprises four knights, two peers and a dame, then advises on any restrictions that should apply – such as preventing former ministers from lobbying their departments for a set period. But it has never banned a minister from taking a job, and its recommendations are not binding.
Last year a string of former ministers were filmed by Channel 4’s Dispatches apparently offering to work for a fictitious lobbying firm in return for cash.
Former transport secretary Stephen Byers, former health secretary Patricia Hewitt and former defence secretary Geoff Hoon were suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party for ‘bringing it into disrepute’.
Mr Byers had boasted that he was like a ‘cab for hire’.
A spokesman for Acoba said: ‘Some of the changes called for in this report are already in place