Tory anger as Labour to hold vote on establishing committee to investigate cronyism

Tory MPs in the House of Commons

Tory MPs in the House of Commons on Budget Day - Credit: Jessica Taylor

MPs are to vote on whether to establish a parliamentary inquiry into David Cameron’s lobbying activities for collapsed financial firm Greensill Capital.

A plan put forward by Labour would create a new Commons select committee to investigate lobbying, including the former prime minister’s activities, which would be able to summon witnesses to answer questions in public.

If MPs approve the motion on Wednesday, the cross-party committee would investigate whether current laws are sufficient to prevent “inappropriate lobbying” of ministers and officials.

Shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves urged Tory MPs to back the motion if they want to “stop the cronyism rampant in their party and in government”.

Opposition day motions are not usually binding on the government, but because this is calling for parliament rather than ministers to establish an inquiry, it would lead to the creation of the committee.

The proposed committee would have the power to “send for persons, papers and records” – giving it the ability to summon Cameron and ministers such as chancellor Rishi Sunak to give evidence and answer questions from MPs.

But former Conservative minister Tobias Ellwood said Labour’s vote on an anti-sleaze committee was “political opportunism”.

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The chairman of the Commons Defence Committee told Times Radio: “What has happened is the former prime minister (David Cameron) has put up his hand and said I didn’t act in the spirit of the rules, you then have No 10 that have come out with their own investigation.

“These things should be allowed to take their course.

“The idea suddenly that we all, with the limited knowledge that we have, can make a judgment on this – it is political opportunism.

“Let’s see what happens with the review, it is being done independently – that is the process that we should do these things, not just jump on this bandwagon and the day after a review has been called say, ‘Right let’s have a determination by having a vote in the House’.

“We simply cannot do that, we don’t even have access to all the information, so let’s slow down on this but let’s get the right answer.”

The motion will not pass without the support of Conservative MPs, something that is unlikely on an opposition proposal, but the move will maintain pressure on ministers over the affair.

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