Watchdog recommends five years lobbying ban for ex-ministers
Former British prime minister David Cameron (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images).
MINISTERS and top officials should be banned from government lobbying for five years after leaving office, the anti-corruption watchdog has recommended.
The Committee on Standards in Public Life published its interim review of lobbying guidelines on Monday (14) in the wake of the Greensill scandal involving former prime minister David Cameron.
It suggested the current two-year ban “may be too short in some cases”.
To give greater teeth, the committee recommended rules on taking post-government jobs should be written into civil servants’ contracts.
It noted that Acoba, the body responsible for overseeing government rules on business appointments, currently has no powers to penalise people who ignore the rules.
Cameron’s attempts to influence ministers on behalf of Greensill Capital, two years after leaving office have led to greater scrutiny of links between government and the private sector.
The watchdog said government departments should be able to issue longer lobbying bans “where they deem it appropriate” – although it should “not become the default”.
In its report, the committee said “relying on transparency alone” had not proved enough to ensure public confidence in the system.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner supported the longer five-year lobbying ban, calling the current rules “completely unfit for purpose”.
The committee also suggested that government transparency rules should be amended to close this “loophole,” as per which phone calls are not disclosed unless they are part of an official meeting.
Meanwhile, Cameron has defended his role in lobbying for Greensill, which filed for insolvency in March.
He said he had not broken any rules but admitted he should have used “only the most formal” means, such as a letter, to make contact.