New contract rules unveiled by government after fury over Covid ‘VIP lane' scandal

New contract rules unveiled by government after fury over Covid ‘VIP lane’ scandal
© PA

Communities secretary Michael Gove came under close scrutiny over Covid contracts

– PA

Boris Johnson’s government has unveiled a series of changes to public procurement rules in a bid to avoid a repeat of the controversy over a “VIP lane” set up for Covid contracts.

Ministers have faced accusations of cronyism after it emerged that some firms were given access to a High Priority Lane for lucrative personal protective equipment (PPE) deals during the pandemic.

The government is now planning to tighten the rules so emergency public contracts can no longer be given without competition.

Suppliers will be blocked from winning government contracts if they have a record of poor delivery, fraud or corruption, according to a Cabinet Office document published on Monday.

It would also be possible to ban suppliers which have undertaken unethical practices – such as a lax approach to safety, or where there are national security or environmental concerns.

Procurement data will be published in a “standard, open format”, the government claimed, as Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay promised that the changes were aimed at “increasing transparency”.

The government also pledged to introduce some form of competition into emergency buying procedures so it “doesn’t need to wholly rely on direct awards” in times of crisis.

The government has come under intense pressure over Conservative politicians’ links to firms which won PPE deals. Last month it emerged that at least seven Tory MPs and peers referred companies through the so-called VIP lane.

Communities secretary Michael Gove was named as the source of referral for Meller Designs – the firm co-owned by Conservative donor David Meller – to the VIP lane. The company went on to land more than £160m in PPE deals.

The government has argued that a VIP lane was a “perfectly reasonable and rational” solution to the large number of offers to supply equipment at the beginning of the pandemic.

And on Monday former health secretary Matt Hancock again denied any wrongdoing after a firm run by the ex-manager of a pub in the MPs constituency was subcontracted to provide tubes for the NHS Test and Trace programme.

Mr Hancock told the BBC that “everything has been above board” over deals for PPE and other services, and said he was “absolutely certain” that the Covid inquiry would find government were “working incredibly hard in unprecedented circumstances”.

The proposed rule changes – outlined in a green paper public procurement reform on Monday – would give more weight to bids with “social value” and help level up the country.

“Under new rules, procurers will be able to give more weight to bids that create jobs for communities, build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic and support the transition to net zero carbon emissions,” the document said.

The Cabinet Office claimed the proposed crackdown on rogue firms were part of wide-ranging changes taking advantage of “new powers” after Brexit.

The department argued that a set of “simpler, clearer and more flexible” rules could now be introduced. Brexit minister Lord David Frost said the planned reforms “are just one of the many areas where we are taking advantage of our exit from the EU’s rules”.

Jolyon Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, responded: “You gotta love David Frost’s attempts to blame the EU for things his government did after leaving the EU and that EU law forbids.”

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Asrama maahad tahfiz terbakar lagi, kali ini cawangan Sungai Dedap

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Kebakaran yang melibatkan tingkat teratas bangunan asrama Maahad Tahfiz Assyatirie cawangan Sungai Dedap, Yan berjaya dipadamkan oleh petugas maahad tahfiz menggunakan alat pemadam api ... Read more »

British rower with incurable cancer sets new world record for Atlantic crossing

Three British women, one of whom has incurable cancer, have shattered the world record for rowing across the Atlantic. Kat Cordiner, who has secondary ovarian cancer, and teammates Abby Johnston ... Read more »

Long Covid: nearly 2m days lost in NHS staff absences in England

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA NHS trusts in England lost nearly 2m days in staff absences due to long Covid in the first 18 months of the ... Read more »

HS2 Bill is ‘landmark moment’ for North West’s rail connections, says Shapps

A “landmark moment” in improving the North West’s rail connections will happen on Monday when the Bill to extend HS2 to Manchester is laid in Parliament, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ... Read more »

Government spent almost €3 million on chartered flights to send Irish troops abroad

THE DEPARTMENT OF Defence spent almost €3m in a five year period renting aircraft and on civilian flight tickets to ferry Irish troops to peacekeeping missions across the world, according ... Read more »

Ecuador to increase police manpower in Guayaquil after killings

© Reuters/SANTIAGO ARCOS Police and soldiers stop cars at a checkpoint to search for weapons and other illegal items during an operation to curb increasing violence, in Guayaquil QUITO (Reuters) ... Read more »

Illegal and harmful content could evade new online safety laws, MPs warn

© PA Wire Record levels of internet grooming spark calls for stronger Online Safety Bill The Government’s draft Online Safety Bill would fail to prevent the sharing of the most ... Read more »

UFC 270: Ngannou vs. Gane - Unofficial Awards

UFC 270 is in the bag and there is no shortage of drama from the event. Francis Ngannou proved himself to be a true mixed martial artist as he utilized ... Read more »

£1,000 payment to schools to support vaccination programme

© PA Archive School funding gaps Secondary schools in England will receive £1,000 to help support the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Special schools and alternative provision settings will also receive the ... Read more »

Health unions call for ‘inflation-busting’ pay rise for NHS workers

Health unions are calling for an “inflation-busting” pay rise to tackle the NHS staffing crisis and increasing waiting times for treatment. In evidence to the independent NHS pay review body, ... Read more »

Australia news live update: Novavax to roll out February; Vic records 17 Covid deaths, NSW 24, Qld 13, ACT 2; Hunt says reseller ‘hoarding’ affecting test shortage

LIVE – Updated at 00:36 Read more »

Bank did not raise interest rates soon enough, says former deputy governor

The Bank of England failed to act quickly enough to hike interest rates as rampant inflation took hold and will now have to “move faster” with further rises, the Bank’s ... Read more »

Travelodge to recruit 600 staff across its hotels

© PA Wire Recruitment drive by Travelodge Hotel chain Travelodge has launched a recruitment drive to fill 600 jobs ranging from managers to receptionists. The roles are spread across its ... Read more »

Cop26 President Alok Sharma to urge countries to act on Glasgow agreement

© PA Wire Cabinet Meeting Alok Sharma will urge countries to deliver on the pledges made at Cop26 so they are not “just words on a page” in his first ... Read more »

Airline bosses call for end to Covid travel restrictions in letter to Government

The chief executives of the UK’s largest airlines have written to the Government to demand an end to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. In the letter, they ask that restriction-free travel is ... Read more »

NYC's cop bashers need to get on board to make the city safe again

Following the murder of rookie NYPD Officer Jason Rivera, Mayor Adams is promising a comprehensive anti-crime plan this week that will include his promised new anti-gun unit as well as ... Read more »

Chandigarh: Man escapes unhurt as tree falls

© Provided by The Indian Express A nearly 50-foot-tall eucalyptus tree standing inside the government college of education campus, fell and smashed through the college boundary wall on Sunday. The ... Read more »

Chandigarh gets 173.7mm rainfall in January — the highest in 39 years

© Provided by The Indian Express CHANDIGARH received 173.7mm rainfall, the highest in the month of January in the last 39 years. The city had received 166.6mm rainfall, which was ... Read more »

Pune registers drop in daily cases; 15 deaths in a day

© Provided by The Indian Express Pune registered a drop in daily Covid cases on Sunday with the number falling to 13,726 from 16,362 a day ago. Also, for the ... Read more »

Hanif Abdurraqib, Tom Lin receive Carnegie literary awards

© Provided by Associated Press This cover image provided by Random House shows “A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance” by Hanif Abdurraqib. (Random House via ... Read more »

Anti-Vaxxers Offer Up Bonkers Holocaust Analogies at D.C. March: Now We Can’t Even ‘Hide in the Attic’

© Provided by The Daily Beast Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty WASHINGTON, D.C.—A hodgepodge of Trumpworld superfans, disillusioned Democrats, far-right extremists, self-identifying independents, and street preachers assembled Sunday morning to rally against equal ... Read more »

Hudson Swafford pulls away with late eagle to win The American Express

© Provided by Yahoo! Sports Hudson Swafford picked up his third PGA Tour win on Sunday at The American Express. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images) It took a late eagle and an ... Read more »

49ers kicker warmed up for his game-winning field goal as the Green Bay Packers were being introduced

© Provided by INSIDER Robbie Gould warms up as the Green Bay Packers take the field. @FrasierrCrane / Twitter The 49ers beat the Packers thanks to a last-second field goal ... Read more »

Watch: Matthew Stafford’s Deep Ball to Cooper Kupp Sends Rams to NFC Title Game

© Provided by Sports Illustrated Tampa Bay tied the game in the final minute after the Rams had squandered a 27–3 second-half lead, but the pair came to the rescue. ... Read more »

Prince George spotted playing football

Royal fans are well aware that Prince George is a big football fan. Now, the eight-year-old son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has been snapped showing off ... Read more »

UK’s biggest cities lose nearly a year of sales to Covid-related downturn

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Britain’s biggest cities have lost almost a year’s worth of sales during the coronavirus pandemic as lockdowns and a lack of office ... Read more »

Luke Donald felt 'very humbled' after Padraig Harrington's endorsement

 Luke Donald admits he feels ‘very humbled’ to have the support of Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington in the race to be the Irishman’s successor for the 2023 match in ... Read more »

Airlines forced to operate more flights to avoid losing airport slots

Airlines will be forced to operate more flights this summer to avoid losing lucrative take-off and landing slots at the UK’s busiest airports (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive) Airlines will be ... Read more »

Caring For Fish 101: How To Keep Fish Successfully

As with any form of pet care, fishkeeping is fulfilling, but it takes work, care and commitment. As with any form of pet care, fishkeeping is fulfilling, but it takes ... Read more »

The signs of financial infidelity in your relationship - and how to move past it

Infidelity, at its core, refers to when trust is broken within a relationship, and it doesn’t matter what form it takes — be it physical, emotional, or financial, it’s one of ... Read more »

Asia-Pacific markets decline in early trade as investors look ahead to this week's Fed meeting

Asia-Pacific markets traded lower on Monday as investors looked ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting this week. The Federal Open Market Committee is due to meet on ... Read more »

The 'game-changing' tricks for cleaning every kitchen appliance

A home hack star has shared how to clean the most popular kitchen appliances with only a few household ingredients and items.  Perth mum-of-two, Carolina McCauley, uses combinations of water, ... Read more »

Anger over plan for huge change to free NHS prescriptions amid fears many won't be able to afford medicines

ANGER is growing over plans to scrap free prescriptions for the over 60s. Campaigners have warned millions of patients would not be able to afford their medicines if they had ... Read more »

Trump-endorsed candidate beats Cheney in Wyoming GOP straw poll

Harriet Hageman thinks this is a good start after winning the straw poll, but is working towards more wins. AP ​A House candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump handily ... Read more »

LPA's trough to bring scattered rain showers over parts of Visayas, Mindanao

rain thumbnail weather thumb raindrops rainfall rain in traffic The trough or extension of a low pressure area (LPA) will cause scattered rain showers and thunderstorms over parts of Visayas ... Read more »

Yellow rainfall warning up over Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro

Yellow rainfall warning PAGASA raised the yellow rainfall warning over four provinces on Monday morning due to the effects of the trough of a low pressure area and wind convergence. ... Read more »

Gainsborough’s Blue Boy at the National Gallery review: You’ll be blue if you miss it

He’s back. Blue Boy, all in satin, his hand resting on his hip with tremendous assurance, has returned to London after a century, looking – it would seem – as ... Read more »

Garda reports of domestic abuse in Ireland rose by 10% in 2021

© Dominic Lipinski (PA) Gardai responded to 48,400 domestic abuse incidents last year, an increase of 10% on 2020. Charges brought by the Garda for domestic abuse crimes also increased ... Read more »

Liverpool bomber’s asylum claim rejected by court six years before attack

The Liverpool bomber’s asylum claim was dismissed more than six years before he tried to carry out the attack, newly obtained court documents confirm. Emad Al Swealmeen died from the ... Read more »

Australia news live update: Novavax to roll out February; Victoria records 17 Covid deaths, NSW 24, Qld 13; Hunt says reseller ‘hoarding’ affecting rapid test shortage

LIVE – Updated at 00:27 Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic