Midlothian MP presents Bill to tackle “cronyism”

Wednesday January 27th 2021


Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Midlothian MP Owen Thompson will today present a Bill that, if passed, he says would help tackle the “rampant Tory cronyism at the heart of the UK government.”

Bills are proposals for new laws. If they pass every stage of scrutiny in the House of Commons and House of Lords, and receive Royal Assent they become Acts of Parliament, and Law.

The Ministerial Interests (Emergency Powers) Bill would require UK Ministers to answer questions about any personal, political or financial connections they may have to a company that is awarded a government contract.

The Bill follows a series of revelations that the UK government has awarded billions of taxpayers’ money to companies linked to the Conservative Party during the coronavirus pandemic – including a National Audit Office report revealing a lack of transparency and adequate documentation of UK government procurement decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also revealed a “high priority VIP lane” was set up to allow suppliers with links to politicians or senior officials to pitch directly for work.

Information submitted to the Public Accounts Committee by Transparency International UK states 68 contracts – worth over £3 billion – merit further investigation says the MP, 66% of COVID-19 related contracts awarded between 1 February and 1 November 2020 worth £8.4 billion were not disclosed within the legal timeframe, and seventeen of the contracts awarded by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) – worth £971 million – relate to companies with political connections.

Commenting, Owen Thompson MP said:

“It is appalling that while in-work poverty increases, billions of pounds in public contracts have been handed out like sweeties to friends and associates of the Tories with little to no transparency. My Bill, if passed, will help to stamp out this rampant Tory cronyism by holding UK Ministers to account over their decisions, and ensure the right people get the right jobs.

“Companies and individuals with questionable experience, but with unquestionable links to power, have been fast-tracked towards big money deals to supply life-saving equipment for our healthcare professionals. More than ten billion worth of contracts were awarded without competition by the end of last July alone, a staggering amount, much of which has been wasted.

“I understand the need for the UK government to act swiftly during a global health pandemic, but it is reckless to award vital contracts to people and companies without the relevant experience.

“I am urging the UK government and MPs from all parties to back my bill and enshrine this simple measure into law. If the Tory government have nothing to hide they will do the right thing and get on board. Those of us asking questions are not going to go away.”

This is a busy week for the Midlothian MP having led a debate on Monday evening pressing for a Covid support scheme for limited company directors’.

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