Labour in Commons bid to force release of Carillion documents
Jeremy Corbyn’s party will use an arcane procedure asking the Queen to tell ministers to hand over papers.
Labour is planning a vote in the House of Commons to force ministers to reveal what risk assessments they made of contracting giant Carillion before its collapse earlier this month.
A motion tabled by Jeremy Corbyn’s party for debate on Wednesday calls on the Government to release the assessments, along with any plans it had made to reduce risk, to an influential cross-party committee of MPs.
The debate comes as uncertainty continues over the future of thousands of workers employed by Carillion and its many sub-contractors on jobs ranging from hospital construction to school meals and cleaning.
MPs will be asked to vote on a “humble address” to the Queen, asking her to direct ministers to release the documents.
Unlike most opposition motions, a “humble address” has previously been ruled by Speaker John Bercow to be binding on the Government, and was used by Labour to extract Brexit impact assessments from David Davis.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said that a refusal to hand over the papers to the Commons Public Accounts Committee would effectively amount to saying that the cross-party panel of MPs should not perform its role of scrutinising Government expenditure and procurement.
“Carillion’s collapse has exposed the Tories’ reckless over-reliance on outsourcing in our schools, hospitals and other public services,” said Mr Trickett.
“Yet, looking at the instability of lots of these suppliers, it appears that Carillion is not an isolated case.
“By its own rules, the Government should have taken action to protect our public services, setting out improvement plans for these firms. As we’ve seen no evidence of this, it seems reasonable to conclude Government was asleep on the job.
“Given this clear incompetence, ministers must hand over the risk assessments and improvement plans so the public can see exactly what has gone on.”
The Labour motion will also demand the release of the same documents in relation to all of the Government’s strategic suppliers – private sector companies entrusted with delivering a wide range of public services.
“The Tories have overseen a race to the bottom when it comes to these firms’ standards, while costs to British taxpayers have skyrocketed,” said Mr Trickett.
“Labour’s message to these huge outsourcing firms that have endangered our public services is clear: the party is over.”