Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
MP AND MR
8 MAY 2008
Q580 Paul Flynn: We have very little
time and I must ask my final question. How does the income you
have from your present employment with these companies compare
with your ministerial salary?
Lord Warner: I gave up income
to become a minister; I reduced my income when I was employed
as a minister, so I had a reasonable expectation that I would
quite like to re-establish my income at a reasonable level after
I ceased to be a minister. I still have not returned it to the
level it was before I was a minister.
Q581 Paul Flynn: And the answer to
the question is what?
Lord Warner: I have answered your
Q582 Paul Flynn: How does it compare?
Lord Warner: What I am actually
paid now is less than I was paid as a minister.
Q583 Jenny Willott: You are all defending
the different roles you play. Why do you think we are conducting
this inquiry? What do you believe the issues are?
Mr Caborn: I think it is because
of the lack of understanding of the role of lobbying. That has
become quite evident in the evidence submitted to you and from
what you are trying to put this morning. It is about the revolving
door and we have tried to answer that. To be quite honest, the
one thing I want to get across is that I hope that the recommendations
that emerge from the Committee are ones that positively encourage
the lobbying of Parliament per se, whether it is the business
sector, the voluntary sector and others who need Parliament to
be knowledgeable about their concerns. This is but one area of
that. I honestly believe that industry does not know how this
place works in the main. You might refer to one or two big companies
and big contracts that have been awarded, but in the mainI
say this as a former chairman of the Select Committee on Trade
and Industry and one who has come from industrythere is
little knowledge about how this place can be influenced and affected.
It is the wealth creators out there for whom we legislate and
sometimes it is done in ignorance. If I may say so, the Industry
Parliament Trust was totally misrepresented in this Committee
by some witnesses. It is not a lobbying organisation; it is a
body that brings outside interests and parliamentarians together
which I think is very important. I hope that you make that a central
part of your findings.
Mr Haddrill: I hope that the purpose
is to find a point of balance between the public perception of
integrity and actual integrity. Another factor which I do not
believe has to be in conflict with that but is on a different
track is that people will not join the Civil Service or enter
a political career if they think that after 20 years in it they
are not able to use the skills, experience and knowledge they
have developed as a result. One wants to make sure that people
can see something after that career and experience. Another factor
that affects the Civil Service in particular is that as society
ages and people work longer we want a group of people who move
on in their fifties and sixties and make way for a younger cadre.
Particularly at the pinnacle of the Civil Service, the harder
it is for senior people to find other things to go on and do because
they are restricted as a result of what they have been doing the
more they will just stay put. I do not believe that is in the
public interest either. Therefore, it is about balancing those
sorts of things.
Q584 Jenny Willott: Obviously, all
three of you come to it from a particular perspective and you
seem quite defensive about whether or not there is an issue. There
is a huge range of views on this Committee and there are lots
of experiences of lobbying, good and bad, having done it or not
done it. The reason we have undertaken this inquiry is that there
are some concerns, whether genuine or not, specifically around
public perception. If you have looked at the evidence we have
received clearly there are issues about lobbying. You have all
said that the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments was
a fair and reasonable process and looked carefully at your appointments.
Do you think that the system as it now is does enough to allay
concerns that people may have when looking at the process? What
do you think could be done differently to make it tighter?
Mr Haddrill: I do not think it
is very well understood or well known. Does it do enough? I think
it does enough when the question is asked and is debated, but
in terms of public confidence I do not suppose that most of the
time the public has a clue that it exists. Therefore, a bit more
openness about how it works and its very existence would be very
Lord Warner: I can see that there
is some public concern and why you are here. I do not feel defensive;
I am just trying to be fairly robust about my position here today.
I sense that the Committee is starting from a different position
from me and Mr Caborn about the whole business of accepting private
sector appointments after one has been a minister. I do not think
we start from the same position as some Members of the Committee,
but I do not feel defensive about it. If you want me to be constructive
about how the system might be improved to deal with some of these
public perceptions, you could change the Advisory Committee on
Business Appointments so that it was an outside independent body;
you could take it out of the hands of parliamentarians if that
was something you wanted to do. You could also define a bit more
clearly what you mean by "lobbying". I do not believe
everybody has the same view about what constitutes lobbying. Those
are two constructive suggestions about how you might improve the
system around this issue. I do not think any of us argues that
it is inappropriate there should be some vetting process of the
appointments that former ministers take up when they leave office.
As Mr Haddrill said, the public understanding of the fact that
there is such a process is probably not very good.
Q585 Jenny Willott: One matter that
has been raised with us in relation to the Advisory Committee
on Business Appointments is that there is no enforcement; it does
not follow up. When you were given advice about what you could
take up and for how long the lobbying ban would be in place, did
you have any impression as to what would happen if you breached
Mr Haddrill: The thing that most
concerned me was that I would damage the reputation of my new
employer. If this is about integrity my new employer does not
want there to be any question about whether or not it has acted
with integrity. The fact that I have been through the business
appointments process was included by them in the press notice
that announced my appointment. I was perfectly open and said what
the restrictions were. If I had breached them in the kind of public
space in which we operated it would have been obvious and damaging.
Therefore, there is a kind of self-enforcement. Is there any further
enforcement? You write back after whatever period of time it is
to say what you have done and that is about it.
Mr Caborn: Having been privy for
10 years to the discipline of public office, I believe that those
standards are inherent in the way you conduct your daily life,
whether it is in the business sector or anywhere else. It may
well be that you will look at some type of enforcement of the
Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. I agree that how
it comes to its decisions could be more transparent; it could
be more rigorous. There could be some face-to-face interviews,
but the important point is: how do you address public perception?
The fact is that you are holding this inquiry and there are journalists
here who will probably not report it in the most objective ways.
Their business is to sell newspapers. Without digressing, the
fact that we are here is rather like the funding of political
parties and the constraints on that. Are we using a sledge hammer
to crack a nut here? I think that phraseology has been used before.
It is about having integrity in the system to make sure it is
transparent and robust. I think that is absolutely central. Once
you have got that it is a matter of saying to the general public
that that is what we have. I do not think that is out there at
all. The danger is that if we do not have it people will become
very concerned about anybody who comes to discuss matters either
with ministers or Members of Parliament which to me is a negation
Q586 Jenny Willott: It seems to me
that, given the system as it is at the moment, there is quite
a big difference between the position of civil servants who move
from one job to another and sitting MPs and peers taking on additional
roles; they are not giving up one job and moving to another but
effectively it is being done on top. Is the present system fair
to both situations, which are different? Is it appropriate to
have the same set up to deal with both scenarios, or would it
be more appropriate to have a different system for politicians
who are still sitting in either the Commons or Lords and to separate
that out from civil servants and potentially special advisers?
Lord Warner: Perhaps I may start
off by making clear that peers are not paid; they are not salaried
Q587 Jenny Willott: I understand
Lord Warner: And peers do not
represent anybody in any sense; they have no representative responsibilities
and so they are in a different position.
Q588 Chairman: Do they not represent
the public interest in a general sense?
Lord Warner: The point I am trying
to make is that we do not have constituents. There is not a group
of people who have voted for us, which is a sore point with quite
a few parliamentarians. We are not elected to represent a particular
geographical area and we are not paid a salary. I am not trying
to stir up House of Lords reformI am happy to debate it
if you wishbut making a point. The question was whether
there should be a parliamentary and non-parliamentary system.
The point I make is that peers are in a different position from
those who continue to be MPs.
Q589 Jenny Willott: But the difference
is that in theory we as sitting Members of Parliament or Members
of the House of Lords are in a position to influence legislation,
the Government and so on. We are in a role that does that anyway
and you are taking on a paid job in addition to being a parliamentarian,
which is a little different from a civil servant or special adviser
who moves from one role to another and does not maintain that
Lord Warner: The earlier questioning
by Mr Flynn was all about whether an individual who was receiving
the pay of a sitting MP could continue to do an outside job. The
point I am making about peers being unpaid is that they have a
reasonable expectation of being able to earn some kind of living
outside their parliamentary duties. I am not trying to make any
wider point than that. I can see as a former minister that if
one came from the Lords one would need to be subject to the same
discipline as someone who left the Commons. But I do not think
it would be reasonable to impose such onerous restrictions that
effectively one would seriously affect the ability of a departing
minister from the Lords to earn a living.
Mr Haddrill: I think the fundamental
issue is probably the same on both sides. Obviously, one must
take into account how serious is the risk. As now one puts in
place different sanctions on different people, but I am not sure
I particularly want to divide the system in half and say that
somehow the issues of integrity for civil servants are different
in nature from those governing ministers or MPs. The discussion
has been very much around lobbying. People probably think of it
in terms of public policy lobbying; at least I tend to view it
in that way. It seems to me that these issues are probably sharpest
in the public mind where there are big contracts at stake, and
maybe that is something that has not come out sufficiently. If
the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments does different
things in different places then it is about being clearer in relation
to potential contracts rather than informing public debate which,
perhaps more kindly, is what I say I do.
Q590 Mr Prentice: I want to come
to big contracts in a moment. Mr Caborn, we know that you get
£75,000 for what you do for AMEC. We know that Ian McCartney
gets £115,000 a year for what he does for the Fluor Corporation,
which is a nuclear decommissioning group. We know that Patricia
Hewitt gets £65,000 for her job with Boots the Chemist because
all of that is in the Commons Register of Members' Interests.
Lord Warner, when Mr Flynn pressed you on how much you got paid
you danced around the issue. Should the money that you get from
all your appointments be listed, if it is not at the moment, in
the Lords register?
Lord Warner: I am paid as an adviser
according to the number of days' work I do. I do not know in advance
in any one year what my pay will be.
Q591 Mr Prentice: So, it is done
on a daily or weekly basis; you have no idea?
Lord Warner: I have an idea. I
was trying to make a calculation in my head very quickly and my
answer was my best judgment.
Q592 Mr Prentice: We understand that.
One of your employments is DLA Piper. What do you do for that
company? Is there a job description?
Lord Warner: There is a contract.
Q593 Mr Prentice: It lists what you
are expected to do?
Lord Warner: In very general terms,
but I have
Q594 Mr Prentice: I was looking at
the DLA Piper
Lord Warner: Do you want the rest
of the answer? I have a contract with a particular part of DLA
Piper concerned with infrastructure and public services and that
requires me to give advice in those areas, including a bit of
health regulation. Therefore, it defines the territory in which
I shall be giving advice and the contract is with a particular
part of DLA Piper.
Q595 Mr Prentice: I was about to
say earlier that buried deep in the DLA Piper websiteyou
must really search for itis this: "Raids by regulators
often happen at the crack of dawn, at weekends or at times when
least expected. Such crises require immediate management by specialists",
and then there is all this stuff about dawn raids and having people
who know how the regulatory system works.
Are you involved in that side of DLA Piper at all?
Lord Warner: First, I have not
seen its website; second, I do not remember being asked to be
involved in any dawn raids or advising anyone who has been the
subject of them.
Q596 Mr Prentice: Anyone with five
minutes to spare can bury deep into the DLA Piper website and
read what I have just read out to the Committee. I want to be
clear what you do for the money you get.
Lord Warner: I give them advice.
Q597 Mr Prentice: You give them advice?
Lord Warner: I give them advice.
I do think that if we are to have a conversationit is a
bit like being on the Today programme. One likes to be
able to answer the question and complete the sentence.
Q598 Mr Prentice: I am conscious
that we are under time pressure here. Let us have brief questions
Lord Warner: I am trying to do
that but it would be quicker if we were allowed to finish our
sentences. I give advice in the area of public services, public
sector infrastructure and health regulation in particular. I do
not give advice on environmental regulation or any other form
Q599 Mr Prentice: When you were minister
for health service reform one of your policy objectives, which
was subsequently overturned by Patricia Hewitt, was to move a
quarter of a million people out of primary care trusts in the
health service and into the private and not-for-profit sectors.
Does that make you and your expertise an attractive proposition
for private sector companies that want to get into the NHS?
Lord Warner: That is your interpretation
of what I was trying to do. What I was actually trying to do,
as distinct from your interpretation, was to separate out the
provider side from the commissioning side of PCTs. That is a different
proposition from the one you put.
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