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MP leading lobbying probe confident ‘meaningful change’ can be achieved

Benjamin Cooper, Patrick Daly and Sophie Morris, PA
·2-min read

The Tory MP leading a Commons committee investigating lobbying is confident there is bipartisan support for “meaningful change” in the wake of the Greensill Capital controversy.

William Wragg is chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which announced on Thursday that it would be carrying out an inquiry into lobbying and business appointments issues that have come to light since the Greensill row.

“There’s an understanding that something must be done, but as often in politics we have to translate that natural understanding into tangible proposals,” Mr Wragg told the BBC.

“I think we can all approach this in a fairly consensual, cross-party way to make sure that we do have meaningful change,” he added.

A series of probes have been commissioned, including by Downing Street, as Westminster looks to understand the role former prime minister David Cameron played in securing Whitehall access for Greensill, which was selected as an intermediary lender for some Government Covid-19 support loans at the start of the pandemic, and whose collapse now risks thousands of jobs, particularly in the steel sector.

The saga deepened last week after it emerged the former head of government procurement, Bill Crothers, took a part-time position with the failed firm while still in his Whitehall post.

On Sunday a senior minister argued there are already “some quite robust systems” in place on lobbying.

But while Environment Secretary George Eustice said there might be “tweaks” required following the review into Greensill by No 10, the Cabinet Secretary and parliamentary committees, he argued the system is already “pretty good”.

Mr Eustice, who also defended Mr Cameron’s actions, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “What I am saying is that we have already got some quite robust systems in place and the principal one is the ministerial code – it is about how ministers conduct themselves based on the people they have talked to.

“So, we should be worried less about who they have talked to, worried much more about ‘are they unduly influenced by individuals?’

“And that is why they declare meetings they have, that is why they declare financial interests, it is why they declare any other potential interests of family members – and that does happen and we all do that.”