Public contracts appear to be being handed out “like sweeties to people with friends in high places”, MPs we told at the end of Jan this year. Now it has been revealed that £881 million in Government contracts have been awarded to individuals who have donated a total of £8.2 million to the Conservative Party in recent years.
Raising the overall issue in Parliament, SNP MP Owen Thompson said that lucrative contracts have been given to firms with little public procurement experience during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Thompson made the comments as he brought forward a 10-minute rule Bill to address concerns around the process of awarding contracts to companies under emergency legislation.
The Bill would require ministers to give a statement to Parliament if a contract is awarded under emergency powers to a person or company in which the minister has a personal, political or financial connection.
Mr Thompson explained that the legislation would help safeguard against the risk of “procurement corruption” and would “restore some trust in the integrity” of the UK’s democratic processes.
The MP for Midlothian told the Commons: “Anyone in public office should be there to serve the public good, not to exploit their position to line the pockets of themselves, their pals or their party donors.
“Yet during this crisis we’ve seen lucrative contracts go to firms with little experience in public procurement but with very clear links to people in power.
“Issues with cronyism are not new, but there’s been nothing of this scale before, nothing so blatantly disregarding due process.
“It could be said that a crony-virus is threatening the health of our public services and emergency action is needed to get the Government under control.”
Now it has now been reported that government contracts worth £881 million have been awarded to individuals who have donated a total of £8.2 million to the Conservative Party in recent years,
Byline Times and The Citizens found that these contracts span across the various projects undertaken by the Government during the Coronavirus pandemic – from the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), to the provision of laptops for school children forced to study from home.
They write: “There is no evidence that the Government awarded these contracts in direct exchange for the donations; no monthly meeting where ministers assigned departmental work to the highest bidder. Rather, the Conservative Party has promoted the idea of outsourcing public services to private companies in recent decades – an ideology that has been ruthlessly applied during the COVID-19 crisis.”