Restoring trust in lobbyists and the lobbied - Tod

2022-04-05
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Restoring trust in lobbyists and the lobbied - Today News Post Today News || UK News

The Greensill affair is the biggest UK lobbying scandal in a generation. Since the Financial Times revealed that David Cameron lobbied the government last year on behalf of the now defunct finance company, it has emerged that the ex-premier peppered ministers and officials with 56 calls, texts or emails. Lord Jonathan Evans, chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has made sensible proposals to police better the “revolving door” between the public and private sectors. But more reforms will be needed to achieve the transparency required.

Their aim should not be to bar ex-ministers or civil servants from joining the business world in later life. Officials have a right to remain active after leaving office, and pursue the salaries available in business or other professions, provided inside knowledge or contacts are not misused. A flow of staff, and expertise, between public and private sectors is useful. The door between the two should continue to revolve, but with clarity on the activities of those who pass through it.

The Greensill case has made it clearcoronavirus_data, too, that safeguards should apply to those still in office, not just those who have left — and not only to senior government officials but to civil servants and special advisers. One of the more eye-catching revelations was that the government’s former chief procurement officer took a part-time advisory role with the supply-chain finance specialist two months before leaving the civil service in 2015, after getting internal clearance. He then became a Greensill director in 2016.

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Lord Evans proposes that government departments and the independent watchdog the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments should be able to ban ex-ministers and civil servants from lobbying for up to five yearsEU & more, where deemed appropriate. He also suggests business appointments should be banned for two years where applicants are directly responsible for policy, regulation or awarding of contracts relevant to the hiring company. Appointment rules should be made enforceable through civil servants’ job contracts, and parallel legal arrangements for ministers; if that is unworkable a statutory scheme, backed by civil penalties, should be explored.

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