Ex-housing minister explained 'ins and outs of the lobby process' to construction trade body

Ex-housing minister explained 'ins and outs of the lobby process' to construction trade body
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Esther McVey walking down Downing Street
Former Housing Minister Esther McVeyWIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Former minister Esther McVey explained the "ins and outs" of how to lobby the government to a trade association linked to her prior role.

  • McVey, a housing minister until February 2020, gave a speech to the Council for Aluminium in Building in October 2021.

  • The MP declared £3,000 in earnings from the speech.

A former housing minister told a trade association linked to her role about the "ins and outs of the lobby/consultation process from an ex-minister's point of view" in exchange for £3,000, Insider can disclose.

Esther McVey was minister for housing and planning from July 2019 to February 2020.

In October 2021, McVey spoke at a meeting of the Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB), for which she was paid £3,000, paid through a speakers' agency. She declared the earnings in the House of Commons's register of members' financial interests.

Esther McVey entry in RMFI
Esther McVey's most recent additions to the Register of Members' Financial InterestsUK Parliament

In a LinkedIn post following the event, CAB summarised McVey's speech as providing "an excellent range of hints, tips and tricks to get an industry message across to government, officials and the press."

Esther McVey at a trade association speech
Esther McVey at the Council for Aluminium in Buildings' members meeting in Leeds, 14th October 2021.Council for Aluminium in Building

Having left the government in February 2020, McVey is bound by the Business Appointment Rules, which seek to regulate work taken up by ministers and civil servants for two years after they leave the government.

No published records exist of an advice letter from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) to McVey regarding her giving a speech or signing up to the speaking agency Speakers Corner, which McVey declared as having played a role in the receipt of payment.

Guidance published by ACOBA for former ministers says that while "'one-off' activities such as speeches" do not require approval, a "longer term arrangement, e.g. joining a speakers' agency" does.

The guidance also notes that where "there is a strong overlap between an applicant's responsibilities in office and the role you seek to take up, significant risks are more likely to arise", and typically then further restrictions imposed.

McVey's speech was described as her "cashing in" on her experience in government by one campaign group.

Susan Hawley, executive director at Spotlight on Corruption, told Insider: "For former ministers to be cashing in on their experience and contacts to provide lobbying advice is precisely the kind of behaviour that undermines trust in politics and creates anger towards politicians.

"It is essential that ACOBA investigate any possible breaches, but at the end of the day until we have a properly independent body on a statutory footing to regulate this kind of behaviour, and we see sanctions for breaches, this kind of story is going to crop up again and again."

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by CAB.

In December, McVey was censured for having failed to seek ACOBA's guidance before taking up a role as a presenter on GB News, for which she was found to have breached the ministerial code.

But ACOBA and Cabinet Office minister Lord Nicholas True decided it was not necessary to take any action due to the limited risk of McVey using priviliged information from her time as a minister.

An ACOBA spokesperson was contacted for comment. McVey's office was contacted for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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