Essential government committee failing to cap salaries of ex-ministers

Other | Monday 11th January 2016 | Cristina

Money has been getting in the way of the government's service to its people for hundreds of years, causing corruption on many levels, both legal and illegal. Recent events surrounding politicians' abuse of their access to information have highlighted this point.

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) is a government committee which regulates the careers of ex-ministers after leaving parliament, aiming to prevent their time in parliament granting them, and the business, an unfair advantage working together. If taking up any paid or unpaid appointment within 2 years after leaving the cabinet, former ministers or senior crown servants must apply to ACOBA so it can judge the suitability of the role.

ACOBA’s rules are meant to stop the revolving door from Whitehall to big business which maintains the monopoly of a certain few over positions of power and wealth. The ‘revolving door’ refers to the process whereby ministers move back and forth between working in the government and industries related to their policy-making at will, to their benefit.

Since its beginning in 1975, the organisation has largely gone unnoticed, but in the last few years it has come under fire for its failure to crack down on ex-officials cashing in on the contacts and information they made in office. The extent of the ‘revolving door’ situation has found expression in the media’s use of the phrase ‘gravy train’ to describe it – it’s a quick, easy, mass ride to quick cash for the select few.

At least 25 former ministers are currently raking in over £1 million between them, as directors, advisors and board chairmen, some earning up to £600 an hour in the sector they were regulating in office.

Click here to read the Mirror's full list.

For example, Former Water Minister Richard Benyon, already one of Parliament’s wealthiest Members of Parliament, is now a £1,000-a-day part-time chairman of the UK Water Partnership.

Although no ex-ministers have broken the law in their new industry positions, they appear to have prioritised money over public service throughout their time in office. Before he came to power in 2010, David Cameron promised to pay more attention to the use of contacts and information gained in office by ministers for private gain. Recent events highlight the failure of Cameron, ACOBA, and many MPs in fundamental parts of their work, depriving millions of people in the UK and abroad of vital services and funding.