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The detailed questions which the Government has to answer about the lobbying scandal as put by Sir George Young this afternoon

Sir George Young Commons I touched on what Sir George Young said in the Commons in response to Harriet Harman in the LeftWatch post covering today's developments in the lobbying scandal.

But here are more detailed excerpts of the questions put to Harman by the shadow Leader of the Commons this afternoon:

"Does she not recognise that the Prime Minister’s decision to rule out an inquiry before the television programme has even been broadcast was simply the wrong response – particularly when the Secretary of State for Transport has confirmed in the other place that he spoke to the Rt. Hon. Member for Tyneside about the East Coast franchise.

"Does she not agree with me that the allegation that public policy was in some way altered by ex-Ministers lobbying for corporate clients – at the possible disadvantage of the taxpayer and the consumer – needs to be fully and impartially investigated and that the Cabinet Secretary should carry out an appropriate review, as requested by Rt. Hon Friend for Horsham?"

"In ruling out an inquiry, has the Prime Minister followed due process? Who exactly has he consulted in the course of the last 24 hours to satisfy himself so quickly as to the veracity or otherwise of these claims?"

"Does she recall that I asked her for a debate on the Public Administration Select Committee’s report into lobbying back in October at my first Business Questions? With the benefit of hindsight, does she regret never finding time for that debate? Why did the Government drag its feet on this report for months? The Committee published its original report in December 2008 – but the Government did not respond for almost a year, instead of the recommended six weeks.

"The original PASC report clearly stated that: “with the rules as loosely and as variously interpreted as they currently are, former Ministers in particular appear to be able to use with impunity contacts they built up as public servants to further a private interest”. But in reply, the Government did not agree with “the general assertion that former Ministers in particular are able to use improperly and with impunity contacts they have built up while in office”. Does she now regret that response – and in paragraph 31, rejecting statutory regulation which she has now accepted?"

"Does she agree also that we need to review the two year time limit for ex-ministerial appointments, giving a longer horizon than is currently the case?

"The country will expect the Government to deal with these issues thoroughly and promptly. If they are not finalised before Dissolution, does she agree that it will be the first responsibility of an incoming government to instruct the Prime Minister’s adviser on the Ministerial Code to undertake a full review of this episode so that government can learn the lessons of what has gone wrong – and then change the rules to prevent a recurrence of this scandal in the future?”

Jonathan Isaby


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