Labor offers watchdog to stop cabinet ethics from ‘turning the door’ | Workforce


Ministers would be banned from lobbying or other paid work related to their government duties for five years after leaving office as part of a Labor plan to set up a new independent watchdog for conflicts in government. potential interests.

The proposals, put forward by Deputy Party Leader Angela Rayner in a speech on Monday, would establish a new organization to enforce those rules that could also sanction ministers who break broader regulations.

The planned Integrity and Ethics Commission would replace several elements of the existing system and also have more powers, for example the ability to independently open investigations into alleged breaches of the ministerial code, the official regulations of ministers.

It would replace the Business Appointments Advisory Committee, which decides the rules for ministers accepting new jobs. However, Acoba cannot impose sanctions, which are the responsibility of the ministers.

Last week, the Cabinet Office said it was taking no action against Philip Hammond, the former Tory chancellor, who is now a peer, although he was reprimanded by Acoba for using his connections with the government to help a bank that he is paid to advise.

The new commission would also replace the independent advisor on ministers’ interests, a role currently occupied by interbank peer Christopher Geidt. He can only investigate suspected ministerial wrongdoing with permission from Downing Street.

Neither does the adviser have the power to sanction breaches of the ministerial code. In November last year, Geidt’s predecessor in office, Sir Alex Allan, resigned after Boris Johnson refused to fire Priti Patel despite an official investigation revealing evidence that she had intimidated officials, a breach of the code ministerial.

The new body proposed by Labor could set binding penalties, and former ministers would be required to address the committee before taking paid positions after leaving office. It could also recommend changes to the ministerial code.

The body is also reportedly enforcing rules prohibiting former ministers from lobbying, advising or any other paid work related to their former role for at least five years, ending what Labor has called “the revolving door. “between government jobs and the private sector.

The plan is part of a larger push by Labor on ethical issues following the controversy over lobbying former cabinet ministers and sitting MPs sparked by Johnson’s failed attempt to bar Tory MP Owen Paterson to be punished for having broken lobbying rules by rewriting the entire disciplinary code for deputies. .

Labor has already said it will ban all second jobs for MPs, with the exception of limited exemptions for people such as medical staff or military and police reservists, and introduce stricter political funding rules , including donations from opaque shell companies.

In his speech, Rayner will say, “The current system is not working and it has failed.

“It only works where the rules are followed and there are consequences to breaking them.

“If you break the rules, there should be clear consequences. Our democracy cannot depend on gentlemen’s agreement; it needs independent and robust protection against conservative corruption.

“Labor’s independent Integrity and Ethics Commission will eliminate conservative corruption and restore confidence in the public service. “


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