This mean, despicable cut will hamper the power of Oppositions—the Conservative party will be in opposition in the future, as they were in the past—to reduce the democratic accountability of this place. Would it not be a great improvement, if the Government wish to improve the quality of our democracy, to cut the number of hereditary chieftains who sit in the House of Lords and the number of people in the House of Lords who buy their places by making donations to political parties?
Once again, a very powerful outburst from the hon. Gentleman, but I am afraid these issues have absolutely nothing to do with the Electoral Commission.
That has never stopped the hon. Gentleman before. [Interruption.] I have never accused the hon. Member of indulging in an outburst—more a spontaneous articulation of strongly held opinions.
When can we debate the Government’s planned cut in funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit, which is welcomed only by those sadists who think it fun and amusing to torment defenceless wild animals? Will the Government cancel the threatened cut, or will they proceed with it and reinforce their reputation as the nasty party which does not care about animals’ suffering?
I know that a number of Members have expressed concern about the issue. The Home Secretary will be in the House on Monday week, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be able to raise it with her then.
May I add the name of Harriet Sergeant to that of Miles Goslett as she, too, exposed this fraud? This was British journalism at its very best and the report shows our Select Committees at their very best in the way that it exposes the waste, extravagance and delusions of this sad episode, which robbed far better charities of vital funds to help children in distress.
Is it not vital that the conduct of the Ministers who ignored the advice and wrote the letter of direction is considered by the adviser on Ministers’ interests? Is it not crucial that we get to the nub of this terrible waste? The buck stops with the Prime Minister. We should have broken the taboo that exists—I would like the Chairman to make this suggestion. As this charity was linked in every way with the big society stunt that was being run by the Prime Minister at the time, the person who should have given evidence to us was the Prime Minister.
This matter will not be put to rest until the Prime Minister explains why he set up what was virtually a slush fund, by getting funds moved from the Department for Education, where Ministers might have stopped this, to the Cabinet Office, from where the money was going out. That was wrong, it was damaging to many of the children who were allegedly being helped by Kids Company and it was very damaging to those charities that could prove the worth of what they were doing through statements and evidence, which Kids Company never did. Should we not look forward to this never happening again and to moneys being moved out of the Cabinet Office’s control?
It is in the nature of politics that some people will always be readier to pin the blame and extract some action as a result. I hope that I am conducting the Committee in a way that all its members support. I think that we get so much more from witnesses and that our reports have more authority if we do not try to pin blame on individuals, but the House will have heard what the hon. Gentleman said.
The hon. Gentleman touched on the important issue of why youth funding was moved from the Department for Education to the Cabinet Office. We really did not get an explanation of that, except for a denial that it had anything to do with wanting to be able to continue funding Kids Company, which the Department for Education had clearly become reluctant to do. One of our conclusions is that Departments should be responsible for allocating funding to outside bodies, rather than the Cabinet Office, because it is, by its nature, too close to the political centre of power in Government and a suspicion can be created, at the least, that decisions are being influenced.
We made a recommendation about the LIBOR fund, which was set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to support military charities. It is clearly a very worthwhile initiative, but any possibility that it could be construed as a fund under the personal control of the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be very clearly checked.