The Conservative Party seems to include a number of MPs who are clearly very concerned about the incompetence and indeed corruption of their own political party. Despite this they found it impossible to support the Labour Party who were simply calling for a Lobbying of Government Committee which they proposed on Wednesday. There was a debate and then a vote. The vote was clearly opposing the idea of a Lobbying Committee. It involved 356 Conservative Voters opposing it but interestingly no DUP votes. The votes for the lobbying committee were 262 and that included the Labour, SNP, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru and at least two NI parties. The comments included a reference to Eric Pickles who has been very clear in his call for the Government that he was a senior part of back in 2010 – 2017 when he stepped down from his role as an MP. He apparently stated yesterday from his position of chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments that he was “really unhappy” with the rules and had been “warning of the possibility of a scandal” for some time. Now given that he was an MP and indeed a Minister from the time when David Cameron became Prime Minister until after Cameron had resigned, we are clearly in a difficult place as Pickles is as much to blame as anyone else in his party. In terms of the other people who have spoken, there was this from Julia Lopez who is the Parliamentary Secretary from the Cabinet Office
We are already working with the chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, my noble Friend Lord Pickles, to improve the business appointments regime, which applies lobbying bans to former Ministers and civil servants. The committee has been actively seeking to increase the efficacy of the system by introducing a framework for the risk-based consideration of cases, greater transparency and better reporting of breaches of the rules. Members should note that some of the issues discussed in relation to Bill Crothers stem from the transparent publication of our correspondence with ACOBA on gov.uk.
If they had just come into power one might understand why it is taking time to resolve these issues. However they have been in power for 11 years and they introduced a lobbying bill 8 years ago. It is clearly not credible for them to act as if it was a new issue. Bob Seely is the Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight and he speaks in the early part of the session
We are talking about one individual politician, David Cameron. I am sorry to hear that he has done this, because actually I quite like the guy and hope he can in some way explain himself rather better than he is doing, but we are talking about one individual politician and one or two—a small number of—civil servants. However, the systemic threat of malign covert influence is not necessarily from specific individuals who may or may not be flawed, but is from states that use covert influence to try to manipulate laws and influence public opinion in other people’s countries, and we now have a mini-industry of that in the United Kingdom.
And then at the end of the session he states to Julia Lopez
Does my hon. Friend understand that many of us want the Government to do the right thing, and are grateful to them for doing the right thing, but understand that the lobbying Act, both for domestic and foreign lobbying, needs to be much broader? We need to take in the law firms involved, the reputation managers and the PR companies. It is not just about a narrow definition of lobbying, but all this lobbying industry that we seem to have built up in this country.
Shaun Bailey from West Bromwich West stated amongst other things that were purely critical of the Labour Party
Let me be clear at the outset: the Greensill affair raises serious issues that need to be scrutinised, answered and accounted for.
There is a few words from Andrew Bowie who is the MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
As my hon. Friend and so many others have said already, we all condemn the actions that are alleged to have taken place regarding Greensill and the involvement of the former Prime Minister. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth and, as so many have said far better than I could, it tarnishes us all. We need to ensure that we uphold the best possible standards in public life and that there is transparency in all interactions between companies, individuals and decision makers in Government.
Another Conservative MP is David Simmonds from Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. He states
In the spirit of the constructive suggestions set out by my hon. Friend Bob Seely, it might be helpful to look at the local government training as a model for us in Westminster, to provide some guidance for Members on how to deal with lobbying. In my view, however, the case has not been made by the Opposition for the motion before us today. Calling for cross-party unity on this issue has been a preamble for making unproven and unevidenced allegations against the Government, and that tells its own story. For that reason, I oppose the motion.
So given these words it seems very disturbing that the votes were so heavily against the proposal for a Committee – the fact is these people are not willing to deal with the issue that they seem happy to talk about.