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24 April 2017
MPs warn ‘revolving door’ between politics and private sector is damaging public confidence in democracy

MPs warn ‘revolving door’ between politics and private sector is damaging public confidence in democracy

Westminster - image credit: PA

Ex-ministers should be banned from taking lucrative private sector jobs for two years after they leave office, according to the UK Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

The report said the “toothless” watchdog set up to regulate the so-called ‘revolving door’ between the private and public sectors had damaged public confidence in democracy and created an exploitative culture.

The MPs also singled out ex-Chancellor George Osborne, whom they said set an “unhelpful example” by taking up the editorship of the Evening Standard without first clearing it with the watchdog.

The long-awaited report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) said the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) must improve “swiftly” to improve public trust.

It branded the watchdog “ineffectual” and highlighted the numerous “loopholes” and “gaps in its monitoring process”.

The watchdog has never ruled against an ex-minister taking up a private sector job, but even if it did it would be unable to stop them doing so as it is powerless.

It has given the green light for more than 600 former ministers and senior civil servants to take some 1,000 lucrative jobs in business – some of which have caused scandal.

As well as the Evening Standard role Osborne recently took a job with asset firm BlackRock which benefited from the pension reforms he introduced in office.

Other examples include former energy secretary Sir Ed Davey, who advises a PR and lobbying company of which EDF Energy is a client.

In its report PACAC called on the Government to impose a two-year ban on former ministers taking jobs relating “directly to their previous areas of policy and responsibility”.

Committee chair Bernard Jenkin said: “Without greater clarity and understanding of what moral behaviour is expected of public servants, the culture has become established in public life, that individuals are entitled to capitalise on their public sector experience when they move into the private sector without clear boundaries.

“This is the ‘new normal’, and public confidence in the effectiveness of Acoba’s advice to former ministers and civil servants will continue to diminish further.”

He added: “The Government must take steps to ensure that the Acoba system is improved swiftly.

“In the long term, failure do so will lead to an even greater decline in public trust in our democracy and our Government.”

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