PPE contract documents will be published by government – but not until after probes end | Political News


The government has agreed to publish documents relating to £200m of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts given to a company that has been linked to a Conservative peer – but not until probes into the firm have completed.

Labor brought a binding vote to the Commons on Tuesday, demanding “all papers, advice, and correspondence” about contracts given to PPE Medpro to be handed over to the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The party’s deputy leader Anglea Rayner said it was time to “end the cover-up and begin the clean-up”, adding: “A vote for this motion is a vote in favor of the truth.”

Health minister Will Quince said the government was “committed to releasing information” and the motion passed without a vote.

But he told the Commons it would only be delivered when all investigations into the contracts were concluded, promising Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden would contact the chair of the PAC “soon” about “information sharing arrangements”.

PPE Medpro was granted government contracts during the covid pandemic to make surgical gowns and masks after Tory Baroness Michelle Mone flagged the firm to ministers through a so-called “VIP lane” system.

She has since faced accusations of profiting from the business, but has consistently denied any “role or function” in the company, with lawyers previously saying she is “not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity”.

Baroness Mone is currently under investigation by the House of Lords’ commissioner for standards, with parliament’s website saying the probe is over “alleged involvement in procuring contracts for PPE Medpro leading to potential breaches…of the House of Lords code of conduct”.

But the watchdog said its own investigation had been paused “while the matter is under investigation by the police or another agency as part of a criminal investigation.”

Picture:
Conservative peer Baroness Michelle Mone

Ms Rayner said the Tories were “out of excuses” and ministers “must now confirm when, where and how this information will be released”, adding: “This cannot be yet another Tory whitewash.”

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine also called for the government to go further by banning VIP lanes altogether.

“It’s been nearly three years since the start of the pandemic and it seems there are still new scandals unfolding,” she said.

“The public deserves better than a government looked at in accusations over taxpayer funded contracts.”

Hours before the Commons debate began, Baroness Mone announced that she had requested to take a leave of absence from the House of Lords with immediate effect “in order to clear her name of the allegations that have been unfairly leveled against her”.

However, a House of Lords spokesperson said the clerk of the parliaments must agree to her requested leave of absence.

If granted, the leave of absence means Baroness Mone will not attend sittings of the House, vote on any proceedings and will not be able to claim any allowance.

malek

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *