Senior Tory MP under investigation by parliamentary watchdog over claims he lobbied head of NHS

17 March 2023, 12:15 | Updated: 17 March 2023, 12:28

Conservative MP Steve Brine
Conservative MP Steve Brine. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A senior Tory MP is being investigated by Parliament's Standards Commissioner over claims he lobbied the head of the NHS on behalf of a firm paying him.

Steve Brine, the current chairman of the Commons Health Committee, is under investigation by Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Daniel Greenberg, over paid advocacy and declaration of an interest.

Mr Brine, a former health minister, complained that he had been "trying for months" to persuade the NHS to hire anaesthetists through the recruitment company Remedium, according to The Telegraph.

The details of Mr Brine's alleged lobbying attempts were revealed as part of a series of WhatsApp messages from the phone of former health secretary Matt Hancock.

Mr Brine is said to have contacted former Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove seeking his help after he had tried to raise the issue with NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens.

Steve Brine
Steve Brine. Picture: Alamy

In a message to Mr Gove he wrote: "Dear Michael...sorry to raise this but having tried the Dept of Health (seemed logical) and the Chief Exec of NHSE (ditto) I am at a loss.

"Long story short, I have been trying for months to help the NHS through a company I am connected with - called Remedium.

"They have 50 anaesthetists right now who can be in the country and on the ground in the NHS if someone only said let us help. They just want to assist and asked me how they might.

"Despite offering this to health and to Simon Stevens I've had nothing despite SS telling the press conference last week this is an acute problem, despite the PM telling the Liaison Committee this is his biggest problem etc etc.

"How might I progress this or does the NHS just not need the help?"

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On February 2, Mr Gove forwarded the message to Mr Hancock who replied: "Weird - he hasn't texted me". He added a short time later: "This is already in hand. Thanks for pinging on".

Recruitment company Remedium had been paying Mr Brine £1,600 for eight hours' work each month since July 2020 - an arrangement that continued until the end of December 2021, the publication reported.

Parliamentary rules state MPs are not allowed to lobby for organisations they are being paid by for sixth months after their last payment.

Former ministers are also banned from using contacts from their time in government to lobby for two years after leaving office.

Mr Brine, the MP for Winchester, told the publication: "This was about responding in the national interest to an urgent public call from ministers and the NHS in a national crisis even if, ultimately, it led nowhere let alone secure any business for Remedium."

LBC has contacted Mr Brine for comment.

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