The Telegraph are reporting that Peter Luff MP is to join the Ministry of Defence with responsibility for Equipment and Support.
Hold on, wasn’t Gerald Howarth MP supposed to be in that job.
One wonders if Mr Howarth’s involvement with the defence industry as highlighted by Guido had anything to do with it?
The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics has made the following statement
The Sunlight Centre welcomes today’s decision not to put Gerald Howarth MP in charge of the nations defence procurement. A spokesman for the organisation said: “Mr Howarth’s lobbying connections with the industry would have made it impossible for the public to be sure they were getting the best deal in this already controversial market. For the sake of propriety the decision to remove him from defence procurement was the right thing to do.
In light of the upcoming announcement on the winner of the light protected patrol vehicle (LPPV) competition, in which Supacat are short-listed with Force Protection Europe, perhaps this statement made in the House of Parliament some time ago has come back to haunt him
Mr. Gerald Howarth: I can reassure the hon. Gentleman on one point. The WMIKs are not being built by Supacat, which is a company based at Dunkeswell, the managing director of which happens to be the nephew of my former secretary—so I know a bit about it. It is building the Jackal, which, as the hon. Gentleman will have heard from the Minister, is performing superbly and is a fantastic bit of kit. Supacat is not involved in the WMIK programme.
What are these lobbying connections?
Having a look at the recently released MP’s Parliament event list, Gerald Howarth booked 4 for the Air League and 9 for the Air Power Association.
Air League - Where Political Leaders meet Aviation Leaders, Representing the three main parties in both Houses of Parliament, the APAG brings those involved in aviation together with politicians for the discussion of topical aerospace issues. By allowing representatives from industry and associated groups to discuss aviation issues directly with leading members of political parties, the APAG has been an unqualified success. Parliamentarians of both Houses are Parliamentary Members of The Air League; at present there are 220.
Their web site lists Gerald Howarth as a Council Member
Air Power Association, The Air Power Association today plays a decisive role in enhancing the image of the Royal Air Force by fostering close links with the media and the defence and aviation industry. Its aim is to develop a better understanding of the Service and the role played by air power through a programme of top-level briefings, functions and professional visits. The Association has two categories of membership: Industry Members (currently Boeing, EADS, AgustaWestland, Lockheed Martin UK, Rolls-Royce, A|D|S, MBDA, Raytheon, DSS, Thales, Eventuality UK, BAE Systems, Hawker Beechcraft and The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises); and Individual Membership.
As Mr Luff starts to arrange the pens on his new desk and begins to make decisions that will impact thousands of service personnel perhaps he might reflect on some of the items of expenditure he was responsible for, as revealed during the scandals;
Clock radio £116.99
Kitchen table and six chairs £1,583
Vacuum cleaner £194.37
Ironing board £49.99
Sandwich maker £12.95
Vacuum cleaner £139
Bread bin £18
Cafetiere and bed linen £48.48
Electric heater £49
Pillows (6) £42
Towels (2) £14
Wastepaper bin and magazine rack £64.92
Laundry bin, mirror, duvet cover, mattress cover, sheet, pillowcase £157.50
Ironing board £14.99
Bed linen £20
Dining room table, four chairs, bar stool £596
Towels (4) and bathmat £76
Food mixer, kitchen scales, table lamp, bulbs £150.90
Bathroom access-ories including lavatory seat, towel, shower curtain £274.84
Bedspread £100 (W) (Food mixer, bed sheets, towels Bedside light, alarm clock radio £246.75
Bed linen, incl: duvet cover (1) pillow cases (4) valance £255.50
Shower curtain, lavatory set £133.94
Bed linen including sheet (1) pillow case (2) duvet cover (1) £75
Highgrove bedside chest £144.93
Chest of drawers £725
TV stand £99.99
Coffee table £120
Cutlery and table accessories £107.45
Bed £369 Bed linen £18.36
Bed linen and cushions £123
Bed linen £36
Two sofas, two tables, pouffe £1,774
Kitchen equipment £23.46
Kitchen accessories including door stopper, £3.99, £156.62
One might think that having a knowledgeable MP with links to the Armed Forces and the defence industry is actually a good thing, but whilst an equipment minister is so closely linked to lobbying organisations and the defence industry there will always be a perception of wrong doing, which trumps any positives by a long way.
Hat Tip: Order Order