United Kingdom

David Cameron faces fresh lobbying questions over £110,000 'public duty' funding

David Cameron is facing fresh lobbying questions over his £110,000 'public duty' funding from the taxpayer.

Labour has demanded 'full transparency' after a leaked email from the former PM revealed his staff had been 'passing on' approaches from businesses to the NHS.

The message sent to the health service's digital chief Matthew Gould in April last year suggested Mr Cameron's private secretary had flagged 'people who have contacted me with tech solutions they think might be deployed in the UK to help with the Covid effort'.

'Thanks so much for considering these and dealing with them, especially when you're so busy. I do appreciate it,' the email said according to the Sunday Times.  

As an ex-PM, Mr Cameron is entitled to up to £115,000 a year in 'public duty costs allowance' to support 'necessary office and secretarial costs arising from fulfilling public duties'. He claimed just over £111,000 in 2019-20.

Allies of Mr Cameron insisted less than half of his private secretary's salary is met from the taxpayer funding. 

They said 'numerous' firms approached Mr Cameron with suggestions of how they could help at the height of the pandemic, and his private secretary 'simply forwarded their messages to NHSX'.

Labour has demanded 'full transparency' after a leaked email from David Cameron (pictured in 2019) revealed his staff had been 'passing on' approaches from businesses to the NHS

Meanwhile, the lobbying row spread on to another front today as it was highlighted that hundreds of former MPs still have parliamentary passes

But shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said: 'This email raises serious questions about whether David Cameron opened doors for other private interests to profit from our NHS - especially shocking if that took place at the height of the pandemic.

'We need full transparency from government and from David Cameron that none of his public allowance was used for something like this - and an absolute commitment to cleaning up this Tory sleaze.'

Mr Cameron has been facing a storm for weeks over his lobbying on behalf of Greensill Capital. He has denied breaking any rules, but conceded he should have made approaches to ministers using more 'formal' channels. 

Cabinet minister George Eustice insisted yesterday that only 'tweaks' are needed to the system, as he stressed that Mr Cameron had not breached any rules.

But Tory MP William Wragg, who heads the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, has suggested that fiddling at the edges will not be enough.  

Meanwhile, the lobbying row spread on to another front today as it was highlighted that hundreds of former MPs still have parliamentary passes.  

More than 250 have the 'Category X' clearance, meaning they can still come on to the estate and use dining and other facilities.

Critics claim the passes give lobbyists 'close access to lawmakers' while former standards watchdog Sir Alastair Graham has insisted they should only be issued to those 'who genuinely work in the House of Commons or House of Lords'.

Ex-MPs with the passes include Labour's Michael Dugher who is chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, which lobbies for the gambling industry. There is no suggestion any of them have broken any rules.

Mr Cameron previously held a former member's pass, but MailOnline revealed in 2019 that he had dropped off the list after apparently forgetting to renew it. 

The number of ex-MPs with the cards has dropped significantly since the pandemic struck, when it was well over 400. 

Boris Johnson (pictured on a visit to Gloucestershire today) has been struggling to contain the fallout from the lobbying row

Boris Johnson defended the senior civil service today amid the growing row, insisting they were not all 'double-hatting' with lucrative second jobs.

 Speaking on a visit to Gloucestershire today, Mr Johnson told reporters: 'People should not, in my view, form the impression that the upper echelons of the British Civil Service have got loads of people who are double-hatting, as it were, doing two jobs - it just isn't true.

'We've got one of the best civil services in the world. They are fantastically hard working people, they have been doing an amazing job throughout this Covid pandemic, apart from anything else, and I just wouldn't want people to get that impression. It is simply not the case.' 

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