Friday 19 November 2021 / 2:53 PM Jack Dromey

Labour demands end of emergency rules used to hand out Government Covid contracts

Labour has called on the Crown Commerical Service to explain why emergency procurement rules, introduced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, have still not been revoked.

This follows the debate instigated by Labour in the House of Commons on Wednesday regarding the Randox Covid contracts and the role of Owen Paterson and Cabinet Ministers in the awarding of such contracts. Randox was given £600 million of taxpayers’ money outside of the normal procurement rules and without a tender – £350 million of which after it was forced to recall 750,000 sub-standard kits.

Lord Bethell has already admitted that he has deleted his WhatsApp messages related to handing out of government contracts and on Wednesday the Government confirmed that a minute of a meeting between Lord Bethell and Randox could not be found.

Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s Shadow Paymaster General, has written to the Crown Commerical Service, who oversee public procurement, to ask whether the emergency guidance issued last year suspending normal procurement rules was still in place, and if so, “what justification there is for this guidance and when will it be withdrawn?”

In his letter, Dromey says “inadequate” procurement processes must not be allowed to continue, particularly as the “exceptional circumstances of last March are no longer apparent”.

Dromey adds: “These emergency rules have led to billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being handed out on dodgy contracts and opened the door for the shocking levels of lobbying that the Owen Paterson case exposed. The Government must act now to revoke these emergency rules, clean up how public contracts are awarded and put an end to this scandal.”