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Cabs for Hire

Written by Rachel Davies on Wednesday, 9 May 2012

One year after Geoff Hoon spoke those now infamous words to undercover reporters the former Defence Minister has taken a job with Augusta Westland. Hoon was in charge of the Ministry of Defence in 2005 when it awarded a helicopter contract to Westland worth one billion pounds.


I’m really looking forward to translating my knowledge and contacts… into something that makes money.”

One year after Geoff Hoon spoke those now infamous words to undercover reporters the former Defence Minister has taken a job with Augusta Westland. Hoon was in charge of the Ministry of Defence in 2005 when it awarded a helicopter contract to Westland worth one billion pounds.

The timing of this revelation is striking. This week Transparency International has launched a report Cabs for Hire: Fixing the Revolving Door between Government and Business which looks at the movement of individuals between public office and jobs in the private sector.

There are potential advantages of a strong relationship between resources-resources-business and government – in fact this is something that should be encouraged – but in order to maximise the benefit to society there must be proper procedures in place to ensure that the relationship isn’t abused.

For example a senior official might use his or her power to shape government policy in favour of a particular corporation with a view to securing a job with that organisation once they have left office. They may even ensure that their department does resources-resources-business with that company.

The recent news of Hoon’s appointment does little to inspire public confidence in Parliament. Our report lays out fifteen key recommendations including, in exceptional cases, a life-time ban on public officials from high-risk departments – such as defence – taking up employment in an associated sector. If the proposals had been in place this may have been one such case.

Instances like this one will not help to restore public confidence in our parliamentarians. That is a shame because there are many excellent MPs and Peers – people who really are in office because they want to make a positive difference to society. Sadly, the current regulatory procedure is creating a space for corruption to thrive, which casts a shadow over the good work of many honest people in Parliament. In order to restore public confidence and limit the risk of corruption, the system needs to change.


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Read 4308 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47
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Rachel Davies

Rachel is the Head of UK Advocacy at TI-UK. You can tweet her @rachelcerysd.

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