The Commons Speaker said he was “not impressed” with a minister’s response to a question about Foreign Secretary Liz Truss allegedly overruling civil servants’ advice to host an expensive lunch at a Conservative donor’s private members’ club.
The Sunday Times reported that Ms Truss, who was then international trade secretary, overruled officials to request to host a £3,000 lunch for a US trade representative.
The location chosen was a Conservative donor’s private members’ club in Mayfair, the paper reported.
The Sunday Times added that the bill was negotiated down to £1,400.
In the Commons on Thursday, during a sessions of questions to the Cabinet Office, Labour MP Catherine West asked the Government if the incident would be investigated.
The Hornsey and Wood Green MP asked “why the Foreign Secretary overruled the civil servants’ advice and took out to a £3,000 lunch in a private members club owned by a Tory donor, and he calls that abiding by the code”.
“Will he immediately include this in the investigation which is being undertaken into the other boozy parties in Number 10?”
Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis responded: “It’s ridiculous to characterise the matter in the way that she does. The reality of the matter is the Labour Party engage in trade union entertainment on every possibly occasion.
“There is no conflict of interest in the matter that she describes and indeed all of the matters that are brought to the attention of the relevant authorities are properly dealt with.”
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it was “not a very good answer” and that he was “not impressed with that”.
The Sunday Times quoted a spokesman for the Department for International Trade as saying: “This was a diplomatic working dinner attended by the previous international trade secretary, senior UK officials, and US counterparts from our largest single trading partner.”
The paper reported a source that said the venue was able to host attendees in a Covid-secure and private space.