Chancellor insists Treasury acted 'entirely appropriately' over Greensill lobbying

24 September 2021, 01:18

The Chancellor believes the Treasury acted "entirely appropriately".
The Chancellor believes the Treasury acted "entirely appropriately". Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has insisted that the Treasury acted "entirely appropriately" over its handling of Greensill lobbying from David Cameron.

Mr Sunak dismissed the impact the former Prime Minister's actions had on decisions over the company.

He said the issue "did not take up a very significant part of my time", or that of officials, but it was "right to listen to Greensill's initial proposal".

It comes after Mr Cameron lobbied for the lender, which collapsed earlier in the year, to be involved in a Government Covid support scheme.

However, the Chancellor said the proposal was "promptly rejected".

Read more: 'Lessons to be learnt': David Cameron breaks silence on Greensill lobbying row

A report from the Commons Treasury Committee in July said lobbying rules should be tightened moving forward, criticising the Treasury for failing to direct Mr Cameron into "more formal methods of communication" after his initial contact with officials, through bombarding them with texts and calls.

Responding to the claims, Mr Sunak said: "While the report highlights the integrity with which the Treasury responded to Mr Cameron's lobbying of the Government, the committee says that the Treasury should have considered, and as necessary mitigated, any reputational risks to the Government.

"The report also calls on the Treasury to put in place more formal processes to deal with any such lobbying in the future.

"I would note in this regard that, throughout the period of Greensill's engagement, all substantive discussions with Greensill were properly handled and recorded.

Read more: David Cameron grilled by MPs over collapse of Greensill Capital

"This not only ensured that the department was able to engage with the committee's subsequent inquiry accurately and in considerable detail but also that I was receiving high-quality and evidence-based analysis of the proposals put forward, which I ultimately rejected."

He went on to say: "I am proud of our response to the Covid crisis and believe that the department acted entirely appropriately in relation to Greensill."

He told MPs the Treasury was "exploring a number of potential policy avenues" about financial regulation following concerns raised by the committee about the way Greensill operated and got into trouble.

However, Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner called on Conservatives to fix the "broken system".

"Ministers need to stop trying to defend themselves over the Cameron lobbying scandal and start changing the broken system that is supposed to stop this dodgy lobbying," she said.

"The fact that David Cameron didn't break the rules as part of his cross-government WhatsApp campaign to land himself a £200m payday is proof that the rules that are supposed to regulate lobbying are completely broken and need to change."