Labour shines a light on the Tory holding Britain’s purse strings, and it really doesn’t look good

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Secretary_of_Defense_Chuck_Hagel_hosts_on_honor_cordon_for_United_Kingdom's_Secretary_of_State_for_Defense_Phillip_Hammond_at_the_Pentagon_May_2,_2013_(Pic_3).jpg
Support us and go ad-free

The Labour Party has called for a sleaze investigation into Chancellor Philip Hammond, a personal friend of Prime Minister Theresa May. The call comes after it emerged on 11 January that Hammond took a personal stake in a company only months before that company won a share of a government grant.

Conflicts of interest?

In October 2015, while still Foreign Secretary, Hammond purchased 15% of a company based in Cambridgeshire called Hydramach. Hammond did not declare these interests in the government’s register of ministerial interests in December 2015.

In April 2016, the government awarded a consortium (of which Hydramach was a member) a share of a £560,000 grant to develop its business in low-fat/low-sugar consumable products. The consortium also includes J Sainsbury plc: a company that might seem hardly in dire need of a government grant.

The Telegraph published the details of Hammond’s conflict of interest, describing the consortium as “a tech start up quango run by the Department for Business”.

A former standards watchdog openly described his conduct as:

a serious failure… there is clearly a potential conflict of interest.

Sir Alistair Graham, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life between 2003 and 2007, told The Telegraph:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

It certainly raises a very big question-mark, somebody like the Chancellor of the Exchequer really can’t afford to be seen to be in such a position. Most people probably thought he was very straight in these matters, and would have been concerned to be seen to abide by the spirit of the rules. It is a failure of leadership that he hasn’t.

He was not alone to think so:

But… but… because… because…

Hydramach has since withdrawn from the consortium, which is due to receive the first instalment of the grant on 1 February. Richard Hobbs, Hydramach’s director, told The Daily Telegraph:

Hydramach withdrew from the proposed consortium and declined to enter into the agreement with Innovate UK and therefore Hydramach has not received nor will receive or benefit in any way from any grant paid to the other members of the consortium led by Sainsbury.

And Hammond’s interests in the company were declared in the December 2016 register of ministerial interests. A spokesperson for Mr Hammond also said:

The shareholding has been fully declared to the Director General for Propriety and Ethics [Sue Gray] at the Cabinet Office and the independent adviser on Ministers’ interests [Alex Allan] who were content with the arrangements.

Hammond’s spokespeople have been quick to argue that he didn’t know “that the company had entered the assessment stage as part of this consortium, until after the assessment phase was complete”. Also, that he has no say in who the grants go to. And finally, he hadn’t filed the report in the List of Ministers’ Interests because:

it wasn’t considered to be relevant to his role at that time.

And it wasn’t declared in his House of Commons register, the spokesperson said, because:

it didn’t meet their threshold for declaration.

Gaping purse strings?

According to The Mirror, Shadow Cabinet Minister Andrew Gwynne has written to Hammond, reminding him:

It is important that those at the most senior levels of government show, and are seen to show, the utmost transparency. The public deserve more than politicians who do the bare minimum in order to protect their own interests.

If Labour has its way, Britain’s Chancellor could soon be under investigation for his financial dealings. The Tory minister tasked with the complex responsibility of holding the country’s purse strings apparently had no inkling where taxpayer money was being spent, only a few months before he became Chancellor. Because the Tories would never come up with plans in advance to benefit one another financially. It’s just outlandish, right?

Get Involved!

Read other Canary articles about Philip Hammond.

Support us at The Canary and help us to continue bringing you independent journalism that really matters.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed