The corruption scandal that has engulfed the Conservative Party is corroding trust in our democracy.
Tomorrow Labour will give MPs the chance to begin to repair the damage by using our Opposition Day Debates to call time on the Tory sleaze scandal, with a vote to end paid directorships and commercial consultancies in Parliament.
The Prime Minister now has a choice: support Labour’s plan to fix our politics or whip his MPs to vote against a ban on MPs being paid directors and commercial consultants and for a cover-up of the Owen Paterson scandal.
Ending paid directorships and commercial consultancies is vital, but it’s only the start of what we need to do. My Labour colleagues and I are calling for a 5-point plan to fix our politics:
1) Ban on second jobs
This starts with voting tomorrow for Labour’s motion to urgently ban MPs working as paid parliamentary strategists, advisers or consultants – a recommendation made in 2018 by the committee on standards in public life.
In future Labour wants a wider ban on second jobs for MPs – with limited exemptions for public service roles or to maintain professional qualifications.
2) Stop the revolving door between Government and the companies that ministers are supposed to regulate
Labour will stop the revolving door by banning ministers from lobbying, advisory or portfolio-related jobs for at least five years after they leave office.
Former Ministers can currently walk straight into jobs lobbying on behalf of companies, profiting from privileged access to Government, information and public funds.
3) Stop Tory plans for foreign money in British politics and create strict rules to stop donations from shell companies
We are calling for the Government to put a stop to their plans in the Elections Bill to allow non-residents to donate to political parties through an incredibly relaxed registration process, including people who in tax havens to avoid paying tax in the UK for decades.
We are also calling on the government to close the loophole allowing the use of shell companies to hide the true source of donations. We’ll ensure that donors to UK political parties have a connection to the UK.
4) Stop waste and corruption with taxpayers’ money with a new Office for Value for Money and reform of procurement
Labour cares about stopping government waste because we respect taxpayers and our public services. A Labour government will set up an independent Office for Value for Money to scrutinise spending and ensure taxpayers’ cash is spent well.
Labour will reform the public procurement system, with contracts allowing for the return of public money when services and goods are not up to standard.
We are calling on the Government to implement all the recommendations of its own Boardman review – including the central register of conflicts of interest – and go further. We need to create a central register of all contracts and a proper log of all conflicts of interests including all Ministers, Special Advisers and Senior Civil Servants with any delegated spending authority.
5) A new overarching body across government, with adequate powers to look at Ministers’ behaviour
Labour will strengthen the current standards system by introducing a new Independent Integrity and Ethics Commission to sit across government. It will not affect the parliamentary standards process.
This cross-government approach will reduce the complications within the current system which creates loopholes and disjointed processes that the Government and Ministers can hide behind.
The existing committees and bodies that oversee standards in Government should be brought under a single, independent body, removed from politicians. This new committee will have powers to launch investigations without ministerial approval, collect evidence and decide sanctions.