Did Chris Grayling break code by awarding contract to Tory donor?
Home Westminster Unions Media Activism, by Sunny Hundal
Labour MP John Robertson has today written to David Cameron and the Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office – Sir Gus O’Donnell – concerning potentially seven breaches of the Ministerial Code by minister Chris Grayling MP over awarding of new contracts.
There is concern over his connections with one of the companies that was awarded the largest amount of contracts at the expense of a local Glasgow charity.
Employment minister Chris Grayling MP announced this month which firms were to get contracts to help the unemployed to find work.
The biggest winner of contracts was Deloitte Ingeus, who received a maximum seven of the 40 contracts on offer in 18 regions of the UK. One of these regions was Glasgow, where Deloitte Ingeus was awarded at the expense of a local charity: the Wise Group.
Deloitte, which owns 50% of the Deloitte Ingeus company, donated in kind over £27,000 to the office of Christopher Graylings in October 2009, whilst he was Shadow Secretary of State for DWP.
At the time, Deloitte was calling for prime contracts to go to large companies instead of voluntary groups due to their ability to borrow more money.
In June last year The Wise Group was short-listed for a national award by thwe DWP that recognised the quality of service it employs to help get people into work.
Last week, Care UK landed a £53million NHS contract in the North East, the same company who’s senior executive John Nash donated £21,000 to Andrew Lansley’s office before the election.
Update: the statement from John Robertson MP says:
It does seem odd that the same year that Mr Grayling received these payment the company that went onto win the largest contract was calling for these very contracts to go to large companies like themselves. This could just be coincidence but Mr Grayling should have taken himself out of the whole process to avoid any chance that this could be a breach of Ministerial Code.
To be honest, this whole process stinks. If we were talking about another country where a private company was bidding for a government contract after making such large donations to the Minister responsible for making the decision we would be questioning the veracity of the outcome. I don’t see why Mr Grayling simply didn’t refer this part of his brief to another minister.
Unless there is an inquiry into why he didn’t defer this to another Ministerial colleague, and into the whole decision making process of how and who awarded these contracts and the level at which Mr Grayling’s office played in the formulation and development of this policy when he was in opposition, then the general public will believe that the Big Society really stands for the Big Stitch up.
It is clear that at some stage the ability of bidders to be judged on their ability shifted to not just price but also size of the bidding company, and I am concerned about the effect that the awarding of contracts for such an important scheme could have on my constituents and other colleagues in Glasgow if the prime contractor was not picked on its ability alone.
The letter of complaint has now been published on Labour List.