There should be the widest possible inquiry into the recent scandal involving David Cameron and Greensill Capital. Clearly, the system is deeply flawed and our lobbying laws need to be strengthened.
After the recent revelations by the Financial Times and others, I believe Mr Cameron and the current Government have questions to answer. These include why Lex Greensill was given a desk inside Downing Street while Mr Cameron was Prime Minister and how it was that Greensill Capital got the green light to give hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer-backed loans.
On 14 April, the House of Commons debated an Opposition motion calling for the establishment of a cross-party Select Committee to investigate the Greensill affair and the wider issues around lobbying. During the debate, the Government confirmed its intention only to establish an “independent review” and opposed the Opposition motion.
In my view, a narrowly-focused review as proposed by the Government is wholly inadequate. Moreover, it will be chaired by Nigel Boardman, a consultant at the law firm Slaughter and May, even though Mr Boardman has been paid over £20,000 per year as a non-executive director at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which in turn overseas the British Business Bank, which lent to Greensill. Furthermore, Mr Boardman was appointed as a trustee of the British Museum by David Cameron. For these reasons, I do not believe Mr Boardman would be a suitable Chair.
Instead, as the Opposition motion proposed, I believe the allegations should be looked at in public by an independent cross-party committee of backbench MPs with the power to call witnesses and examine documents. There was strong cross-party support for this step.
Unfortunately, the establishment of a truly independent inquiry was voted down. However, I will continue to support calls for a proper investigation into this matter.
More widely, I support expanding the scope of the lobbying register to include in-house lobbyists which would increase transparency. Action must be taken to close loopholes in the law, regulate lobbyists and lift standards to ensure that something like this cannot happen again.