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Thursday 19th July 2012 | 13:24
I write to you in relation to the issue of ministerial accountability to Parliament, and specifically in relation to Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, Minister of State for Trade and Investment.
Paragraph 1.2 of the Ministerial Code sets out the responsibility of Ministers to Parliament, including:
“b. Ministers have a duty to Parliament to account, and be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments and agencies;”
“d. Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament and the public, refusing to provide information only when disclosure would not be in the public interest which should be decided in accordance with the relevant statutes and the Freedom of Information Act 2000;”
You will be aware of the calls made both in Parliament yesterday (HoL Hansard, Vol 739 No 37 Col 234), in the House of Lords, and outside it, for Lord Green of Hurspierpoint to come to Parliament to explain his involvement, if any, in the practices uncovered by a Senate Committee in the USA at HSBC, where he was a senior executive from 1982 to 2010, including being Chief Executive Officer and Group Chairman, 2006-2010, before being made a peer and being appointed by the Prime Minister as Minister of State for Trade and Investment. As you will know, the bank’s Head of Compliance has already resigned from the bank over the issue.
While trade ministers inevitably have to travel a great deal, so limiting their ability to be in Parliament, records show that having entered the House in November 2010, Lord Green has spoken in the House a total of just five times – a debate, answering two oral questions, given one statement and spoken during one QSD. Previous trade ministers have managed to combine their national and international ministerial duties with their Parliamentary responsibilities to a much greater degree.
We believe that in line with the provisions of the Ministerial Code, and in relation to the impact of the disclosures concerning HSBC on his role as Minister of Trade, Lord Green should come to Parliament to make a statement to the House of Lords before the House rises next week. We would urge you, as the principal Government Minister in the House of Lords, to make arrangements for such a statement to be given.