Another week and a further slide into disgrace for the Prime Minister and his government.
Now, not only refusing to take responsibility for the numerous examples of law-breaking that took place at No.10 during lockdown, Boris Johnson has gone on the attack, resorting to regurgitating right-wing conspiracies about Keir Starmer’s time as director of public prosecutions during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Predictably, he has then failed to sincerely retract, and apologise for, these lies when corrected.
This led to an ugly scene outside Parliament where police had to intervene as a mob descended on Keir, accusing him of the same false accusations.
Words have consequences and the Prime Minister is stoking a very dangerous fire here. It is irresponsible and indefensible.
He must fully retract his statement, apologise for his behaviour over the last week and, ultimately, do the honourable thing and resign. Unfortunately, none seem likely from this shameless PM.
Question to the Prime Minister
I challenged both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House about what has been going on in the government over the last few weeks.
I asked the Prime Minister, given that he sets the culture at No.10, why he thought staff felt unable to raise their concerns about the bad behaviour that had taken place.
As expected, I received some indistinct waffle about “reviewing the code” to ensure changes were made.
I also received a non-answer when I challenged Jacob Rees-Mogg about briefings that blamed No.10 staff for the Prime Minister’s predicament.
This is not a front bench that is interested in taking responsibility for its failings.
It’s just a matter of how much damage they are prepared to do to save the Prime Minister’s skin.
Question to the Chancellor
All of this distraction is taking place at a time when petrol prices, the weekly shop and energy bills are going through the roof.
The scandal-ridden PM and his government have shown nothing but contempt for hard-working people and they have no answers for the cost-of-living crisis.
The government has ignored Labour’s calls to introduce a windfall tax on the profits of North Sea Oil and Gas producers to fund a package of support for people facing the energy price crisis.
I questioned the Chancellor about his hands-off approach to companies like Shell, who just announced profits of $20bn, putting it to him that people will be unimpressed by his approach.
He told me that what people are seeing is “a government that is on their side…”
Need I say more?
PPE contracts and Government waste
Through my work on the Public Accounts Committee I have been holding the government to account over the countless examples of waste, profiteering and cronyism that have taken place in the handing out of Covid contracts.
I brought up the case of an interior design company that was handed £600m in contracts through the
VIP fast lane.
Private Eye magazine has found that the money isn’t in the firm’s accounts. So, where has it gone?
Astonishingly the Minister told me that it wasn’t a matter for the government to investigate.
This week, I asked a question about Randox – a company that cashed in on Covid contracts, their profits jumping from £12m to £50m
But as the cash rolled in, the company was re-registered in the Isle of Man.
I asked the Minister if she thought tax on UK Covid contracts should be paid in the UK.
You can see her response here
I also challenged the Paymaster General about the more-than-£70m that was lost through the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – part of the Tory government’s poor management of Covid business support that led to £4.3 billion being handed out in fraudulent loans and a mess of such magnitude that it led to the Tory minister for counter-fraud quitting his post.
Unsurprisingly, he did not have a good answer.
The Public Accounts Committee report here is an account of long-term financial chicanery by the well-connected smooth operator Lex Greensill.
I have raised my concerns about this issue many times and questioned the British Business Bank’s Chief Commercial Officer about it at a hearing last summer.
The Department of Health and Social Care’s failure to implemented proper checks and controls in dealing with Greensill Capital is hopeless.
None of the Greensill schemes introduced by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) delivered any benefit to the NHS and there is no obvious justification for why they were taken up to begin with.
The report also tells us that there is also no evidence there had been a proper review of potential conflicts of interest stemming from Lex Greensill’s various advisory roles with David Cameron’s government.
This ongoing saga illuminates a tale of deflection, delay and the worst of government.
Menopause Bill support
I was delighted to be able to support
Carolyn Harris’ Menopause Revolution Bill back in October, where her tireless campaigning led to the Government agreeing to make changes to HRT prescription charges in England and also setting up a new menopause taskforce to oversee reforms and employer training.
I recently asked a question about what progress is being made on this important issue.
Food prices are on the rise. The boss of Tesco has recently warned that food inflation will hit 5% in the spring.
I asked the Secretary of State for Wales what he was going to do to help families that are struggling to cope.
You can see his response here.
I met with residents of Tynewydd, Tredegar after being contacted by community champion Diane Rowberry about the recurring issue of burst water mains.
This leak has been going on for some time and is especially problematic at this time of year, when the water is freezing overnight. I know residents are concerned about the road becoming dangerous and access to the local park being affected.
I contacted Welsh Water to ask that this main be renewed rather than repeatedly repaired and for a tidy-up of the mess that has been created.
I was very pleased to receive a response informing me that Welsh Water now hopes to renew the affected section to reduce the chance of further bursts occurring.
They have apologised for the damage done to the local playing field and the Estates team is looking into it.
Elections Bill 1
Elections Bill 2
Elections Bill 3
Coronavirus Grant Schemes: Fraud
Menopause Bill support
Business of the House
Sue Gray Report
Tackling Fraud and Preventing Waste
£600m PPE money missing
Labour’s Economic Plan
Question: Menopause Bill support
DWP failings on women’s pensions
Press: Financial Ombudsman service/BSPS
“The PM is a national distraction…”
Press: “Nick Smith is right about British Steel pensions…”
Holocaust Memorial Day
Question to the Leader of the House
Congratulations to Coed-y-Garn School
Nick Thomas-Symonds visits Blaenau Gwent
Dating scam warning
Question to Prime Minister
Welsh Government Winter Fuel Support
Question: Tackling Fraud
Question to the Chancellor
World Cancer Day
Question: Missing £600m in PPE payments
NAO report into Greensill Capital
Question: Rising food prices
Question: Randox tax