16th March 2017
[That this House recalls former Prime Minister David Cameron’s condemnation in 2010 of politicians who are out to serve themselves and not the country by lobbying; notes the abject failure of the Government’s watchdog, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, to reduce the abuses of the potentially corrupting revolving door between ministerial office and big business lobbying; and calls on the Government to establish an effective watchdog that would enhance the House’s reputation for probity, removing the opportunities for former Ministers to sell their inside knowledge and contacts for financial advantage by prohibiting their lobbying for companies they influenced or regulated in their Ministerial roles.]
The temptation is there for former Ministers to use their insider knowledge and contacts for their private gain. How is it right that the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which is responsible for approving such appointments, saw fit to give its blessing to a former Minister receiving £13,000 a day in addition to his parliamentary salary? Does that not bring this House into deeper disrepute?
CONDUCT OF THE RT HON. MEMBER FOR TATTON
Date tabled: 15.03.2017
Primary sponsor: Flynn, Paul
Sponsors: Stephens, Christopher Hopkins, Kelvin
That this House believes that the reputation of the House may be placed in jeopardy by the right hon. Member for Tatton's acceptance of a job with BlackRock, which pays him £13,500 a day in addition to his full-time salary as an hon. Member.
Leader of the House
It is right that we have a committee that is not part of the Government and not a Committee of this House or the other place to make rulings on individual cases. It is important that former Ministers stick to the proper procedures in seeking clearance before taking on any new external appointment.
· Chilcot Report
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)
I am also a member of the Committee, but I do not support this report because I believe it has been interpreted by the press as an act of absolution for the Prime Minister involved and the other culpable people who were led by him, principally the three Select Committees of this House. Going to war was the worst blunder this House committed since sending troops to the Suez war. We should be objective in dealing with our blunders and, although this report has many merits, it does not address the truth that we were led into an avoidable war by a man of vanity who was in a messianic mood—he misled the House in a very serious way.
The hon. Gentleman’s report contains evidence from Dr Rangwala, who rightly says that there are two interpretations of the evidence before Chilcot. One interpretation, which the report suggests should be referred to the Privileges Committee, might lead us to conclude that we went to war in vain. We must remember the principal need to avoid sending soldiers to war in future because of the vanity or inflexibility of this House in making fair judgments. We have that responsibility. If we do not condemn the errors of the past, we are responsible for them.
Chair of Public Administration Committee
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his work on the Committee, and I respect that we differ on the report. I appreciate the emphasis he wants to make by declining to support the report, but it is open to the House at any time to refer any matter to the Committee of Privileges. There is a procedure for doing that, and he should try to implement it if he thinks there is a case for doing so.
The difficulty, as the Chilcot inquiry said, is that there are two interpretations of all this and that there is no definitive evidence to suggest culpability or that the former Prime Minister deliberately sought to mislead the House. There are lots of lessons to be learned. As an aside, for the House to be able to make an informed decision, it relies entirely on what the Government tell it. We are in a new era in which the House is consulted about such things, which never used to be the case. We used to have rather more retrospective accountability on such matters, rather than forward accountability, and I question whether such forward accountability works. I do not think the House of Commons is competent to make strategic judgments on the spur of the moment and in the heat of a crisis in the way that a Government should be.