Labour calls for Ministers with Covid contract links to publish communications
Labour are today calling on the government to publish all communications between Ministers and their business contacts or links who were awarded contracts over the pandemic under emergency procurement measures put in place in March 2020.
Writing to Michael Gove, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves MP underlined shocking revelations around the government’s VIP fast lane over the last week, showing officials were “drowning” in high priority requests without the correct certification or due diligence.
The VIP fast lane has been a hallmark of the government’s “contract cronyism” and sleaze unfolding over the last year, with evidence showing that companies were ten times more likely to win contracts through the fast lane after tip offs from MPs and Ministers.
The full process of the VIP fast lane has still not been published, nor the names of companies awarded contracts through this mechanism, despite Labour raising the issue seven times with government.
The Party also urged the Prime Minister to stand by his commitments he made in Prime Minister’s Questions last week to publish text messages between himself and James Dyson, as well as communications he has had with other business leaders.
Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves MP said:
“Under the increasing spread of Tory sleaze, knowing how exposed some of our frontline staff were during the height of the pandemic without proper PPE, but also that Tory friends and donors were being awarded £2 billion worth of contracts creates increasingly serious questions for government.
“The government have long rejected Labour’s call for basic transparency by publishing the VIP fast lane, but this cannot go on given new revelations of corruption risk, and of companies without proper certification being allowed to jump the queue.
“As we are still missing an Independent Advisor on Ministerial Standards, and a Register of Ministers’ Interests, the government must require Ministers to publish openly and with full transparency, communications between them and those businesses who have won contracts since the pandemic begun and emergency procurement was introduced.
“Otherwise it’s increasingly clear that it is one set of rules for Ministers and their close friends, and another for everyone else.”