Labour exposes Government’s failure on publishing one hundred outstanding PPE contracts

Labour has criticised the Government’s failure to meet its own commitments to publish 100 outstanding Covid contracts during a Urgent Question in Parliament today.

In February, a High Court Ruling found the Government had acted unlawfully when it came to publishing contracts on time.

Later that month, the Prime Minister said: “the contracts are there on the record for everybody to see” but since then a Court Order, using the Government’s own figures, found that 100 contracts remain unpublished, leading to the Good Law Project to claim the Prime Minister appeared to have “misled” Parliament on the details.

Pressing the Government to publish those contracts in the public interest Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the matter was urgent “because our frontline workers were not adequately protected with the high-quality PPE that they needed during this crisis,” and “because it is essential that taxpayers’ money is spent effectively and fairly not handed out to those who happen to have close links with the party of government.”

Reeves called on the Minister to apologise on behalf of government to set the record straight, and “to honestly tell our NHS nurses, now facing a pay cut, that the government has not wasted a single penny of their money on this curious incident of the missing contracts?”

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, responding to the Minister, said:

Mr Speaker, Labour’s question today matters because our frontline workers were not adequately protected with the high-quality PPE that they needed during this crisis.

And it matters because it is essential that taxpayer’s money is spent effectively and fairly not handed out to those who happen to have close links with the party of government.

The Government ran down the PPE stockpile ahead of the pandemic and it came back to haunt us when we needed it most.

Contracts were handed out, many to friends and donors of the Conservative Party – without any transparency.

The Good Law Project took the Government to court.

And on the 19th February, the High Court ruled that the government had acted unlawfully saying that

“The public were entitled to see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the…contracts were awarded.”

Three days later, on 22 February, in this House, the Prime Minister said “the contracts are there on the record for everybody to see.” But they’re not.

A Judge confirmed, through a Court Order last Friday, that 100 contracts are still to be published.

So will the Minister now take the opportunity to apologise for that statement and put the record straight?

And will the government publish all 100 outstanding contracts by the end of this week?

For contracts which have failed, will the Minister tell us how much money has and will be clawed back for taxpayers?

Can the Minister tell us who was on the VIP fast lane, and how they got on that list?

And finally, can the Minister honestly tell our NHS nurses, now facing a pay cut, that the government has not wasted a single penny of their money on this curious incident of the missing contracts?