Monday 26 April 2021 / 3:59 PM Cronyism / Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves calls on the Government to make the Independent Advisor on Ministerial Standards properly independent

Labour has today called on the Government to make the Independent Advisor on Ministerial Standards properly independent and give the role holder the powers to trigger their own investigations. Currently the role of the Advisor can only trigger investigations with permission of the Prime Minister. Currently the post is vacant and has been for five-months.

On 17 April the Chair of the Committee of Standards in Public Life called for this type of independence in this role to ensure proper accountability and scrutiny, and warned that the Government ‘risks public trust’ without probes into ministers.

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in response to the Urgent Question today to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, calling on him to update the House on the Ministerial Code, said:

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

“There must be no bullying and no harassment, no leaking, no misuse of taxpayer money, and no actual or perceived conflicts of interest.”

These words are from the Prime Minister’s foreword to the Ministerial Code.

I don’t know if he believed them then, but he is trampling on them today.

The Prime Minister is now corrupting the standards of public life expected in high office.

As he tries to cover up payments for the luxury refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, possibly breaking the law through undeclared loans.

As for leaks, we are now seeing the pipes burst with the sewage of allegations.

The fish rots from the head down.

There is a reason why there is no Independent Advisor on Ministerial Standards.

There is a reason why the Government won’t publish the long overdue list of Ministerial Interests.

The Prime Minister hasn’t wanted them.

This is a Prime Minister who would rather “let the bodies pile high” than act on scientific advice.

They are not bodies. They are people and loved ones, and they are missed.

When will the Government publish the Register of Minsters’ Financial Interests?

Who paid the invoices for the Prime Minister’s flat refurbishment in the first place, and when were those funds repaid?

When will the vacancy for the Independent Advisor on Ministerial Standards be filled and will they be given powers to trigger independent investigations?

And, finally, will the minister apologise for the stomach churning comments that have come out today, and urgently announce a public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic?

This is all about conduct, character and decency.

Our country deserves so much better than this.