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Gummer In £600K Conflict Of Interest Claim

February 3, 2019

By Paul Homewood

 

David Rose is back with a damning exposure of John Gummer:

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Tory peer John Selwyn Gummer’s private company has been paid more than £600,000 from ‘green’ businesses that stand to make millions from his advice to Ministers.

The Conservative grandee heads the Government’s powerful Climate Change Committee that vigorously supports pumping billions of pounds in public subsidies into firms developing environmentally friendly technology.

Yet a Mail on Sunday investigation has discovered that his family-run consultancy has been paid huge sums by businesses that have cashed in on those lucrative taxpayer-funded handouts.

MPs say Gummer should have declared the payments – but he never has.

Last night, he vehemently denied any conflict of interest and insisted he had fully complied with disclosure rules.

He admitted his company received the payments, but insisted the work it undertook did not involve climate change issues.

Explosive documents leaked to this newspaper reveal that Sancroft International has been paid by at least nine businesses and campaign groups involved in projects to cut greenhouse gases.

That is the main aim of the committee 79-year-old Gummer leads – although policies it champions have been criticised for forcing up taxes and household energy bills.

Among the dossier’s contents, we can reveal that:

  • Engineering giant Johnson Matthey, which makes batteries for electric cars, paid Gummer’s firm nearly £300,000 over five years before he personally urged the Government to speed up plans to make all new cars on Britain’s roads battery-powered;
  • Venture capitalists Temporis Capital – whose profits from windfarms and solar energy projects are bolstered by huge Government subsidies – paid the company £50,000 between 2012 and 2017;
  • Controversial green energy producer Drax, which gets £700 million a year in Government subsidies, paid Sancroft £15,500 while the Climate Change Committee was writing a report on its activities.

Last night Gummer, who was a Tory MP for 40 years before becoming Lord Deben in 2010, was facing calls to resign over what appear to be ‘colossal’ and ‘scandalous’ conflicts of interest exposed by this newspaper.

MPs also demanded an urgent inquiry by Parliament’s standards watchdog. David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, said: ‘Based on the information you have given me, he appears to be unfit to hold public office.

‘As CCC chairman, he has been playing a hugely influential role, giving evidence to Parliament, making speeches, and issuing reports that have an enormous impact on both policy and household bills.’

Labour MP Graham Stringer, a member of the Science and Technology Committee in the Commons, said he was ‘staggered and appalled’ by the conflict of interest.

All MPs, peers and public officials must officially declare their outside earnings and interests to avoid conflicts of interest.

As the £1,000-a-day chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Gummer is subject to a strict Cabinet Office code of conduct, which clearly states that officials should declare publicly ‘any private interests which may, or may be perceived to, conflict with your public duties’.

And a spokesman for the CCC said: ‘There is a clear policy on conflicts of interest and a register of committee members’ interests. It is the responsibility of members to comply with this policy and to declare any potential conflict.’

Gummer does declare his chairmanship of Sancroft, but official records show the former Agriculture Minister –who famously fed his four–year-old daughter a beefburger on TV during the BSE crisis in 1990 – has not publicly declared any payments made by ‘green’ firms to his company.

A statement from his solicitor insisted: ‘Allegations of conflict of interest and other improprieties are wholly false and misconceived… [he] has, at all times, made disclosures in accordance with the advice he has been given by the House of Lords and the CCC.’

The Committee on Climate Change, established by the 2008 Climate Change Act, is a supposedly independent quango which advises the Government on how to achieve Britain’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

Chaired by Gummer since 2012, it has urged Ministers to fund vast subsidies paid to ‘renewable’ energy companies.

The cost is met by adding ‘green’ levies to household and industry fuel bills, currently totalling £8.6 billion a year.

The CCC supports green taxes that feed the coffers of renewable energy firms. It has also argued in favour of a new carbon tax – a move that would benefit the companies paying Sancroft International.

Read the full story here.

Gummer’s claim that all of this income is purely incidental really does not stack up. With annual turnover of £1.2m, the figure of £600,000 equates to 10% of turnover, clearly a significant proportion of income, which Sancroft could not afford to do without.

Gummer’s position as Chair of the CCC is clearly no longer tenable. But questions must also now be raised about the workings of the CCC, which clearly is not independent by any definition.

In particular, most of its members are so heavily compromised by their own outside interests, that their objectivity must also be called into question.

Just one example. One of the members of the CCC is Rebecca Heaton, and this is the profile provided by the CCC:

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https://www.theccc.org.uk/about/committee-on-climate-change/

Drax would be bankrupt without the massive subsidies, amounting to £729m a year in their latest accounts, all paid for by energy users.

On what planet can she be regarded as an independent or objective advisor on matters of renewable or decarbonisation policy?

19 Comments
  1. The Old Bloke permalink
    February 3, 2019 11:09 am

    Drain the swamp, somebody, please?

  2. Joe Public permalink
    February 3, 2019 11:12 am

    Once a trougher, always a trougher.

    “John Gummer claimed more than £9,000 a year for gardening on MPs’ expenses

    John Gummer, the former Conservative Cabinet minister had moles removed from his country estate at taxpayers’ expense.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5301734/John-Gummer-claimed-more-than-9000-a-year-for-gardening-on-MPs-expenses.html

    • Robert Fairless permalink
      February 4, 2019 12:16 pm

      “Trougher” ? Is that another name for thief?

  3. Charles Wardrop, permalink
    February 3, 2019 11:12 am

    One suspects that, without corruption in its various forms, the AGW fiasco would have got no further than “End of the World is Nigh” sandwich board carriers.
    T,he more that corruption now can be found out, then nearer we will be to seeing the repeal of Climate Change Acts (2008,9), but will the political “sysntems” allow that?

    For once Donald Trump has trumped the fake news. Good for him!

  4. February 3, 2019 11:18 am

    Gummer is not getting much support from the commenters at the Mail. Most people realise that the Westminster Bubble is a swamp occupied mostly by corrupt and incompetent politicians and hangers-on feeding at the trough.

  5. February 3, 2019 11:59 am

    After reading this and heading down to the comments, The Old Bloke had taken mine: “drain the swamp.”

    As we are finding out, it is not a matter of a few at the top. All down their food chain, they have embedded bureaucrats for decades. Here they are under Civil Service and will brag they cannot be fired. That must be dealt with. When the government shuts down again after the Feb. 15 deadline Trump imposed, they will have been “warned” and their jobs can possibly be broomed.

    I worked for the US National Herbarium of the Smithsonian Institution in the 1970’s. It is akin to your Kew. It was a Civil Service position. People got those jobs and “retired.” They promote sloth and not being a “curve wrecker.” It was not a happy experience for me in many ways.

    My late father noted: “All three of my children have worked for the government and have similar opinions.” My late brother, Jim, the chemist, was head of chemical research for Dugway Prooving Grounds in Utah in the 1960’s before finding the teaching job he liked at Colorado State University. My other brother, Bill, the physicist, first worked for the Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the 1960’s.

    It is the same with academia. At WVU and elsewhere the administration is more than top-heavy and overly-paid. Several decades ago, I observed “the Vice Presidents of Nothing at All and the Deans of Nothing in Particular.”

  6. Ajax Ornis permalink
    February 3, 2019 12:06 pm

    Bummer by name. Bummer by nature.

  7. Mike H permalink
    February 3, 2019 12:10 pm

    If memory serves, wasn’t there also a report that he tried to get his company and/or family involved in the Severn tidal scheme?
    Maybe we could coin a new term: “Scambag”?

  8. February 3, 2019 1:35 pm

    £1,000-a-day chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)

    Outrageous if true. That’s way more than the Prime Minister gets.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salaries_of_Members_of_the_United_Kingdom_Parliament

  9. February 3, 2019 1:46 pm

    The problem here is that while there not be impropriety, there is the definite appearance of impropriety. The whiff of this has been in the air for a long time, as others have pointed out, in respect of former ministers and their families.

    As long as gov’t policy consists of choosing who they should throw money at, this will never go away. Here is the cycle:

    You have the ear of gov’t? Let me pay you to lobby them. Then, they can throw money at me, and I will forward a portion of it to you, and you can lobby them for more.

    The real problem then is that there are subsidies at all. Pull the subsidies, all of them.

    • February 3, 2019 1:47 pm

      … while there *may* not be impropriety…

      :/

  10. Colin Brooks permalink
    February 3, 2019 2:26 pm

    Deben has no integrity and he does not even believe in the climate change meme. Deben was interviewed for the job of chairman of the CCC by the existing committee members and during the process he said the following:

    “I do say to those who are sceptical about Climate Change…..clearly there is no need to talk about Climate Change because we have got to do all these things anyway if we are going to meet “the needs of 9 billion people

    • Colin Brooks permalink
      February 3, 2019 2:31 pm

      For those like me who believe there is at least a possibility of a global conspiracy, check this out 🙂

      Let’s say that science, some decades from now, said ‘we were wrong, it was not about climate’, would it not in any case have been good to do many of things you have to do in order to combat climate change?.

      Connie Hedegaard Sept 2013

    • dennisambler permalink
      February 3, 2019 11:39 pm

      He was already David Cameron’s choice, and had led the Tory-Lib agenda they called “Quality of Life”

      https://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/files/blueprint_for_a_green_economy110907b.pdf September 2007

      Quality of Life Policy Group – Chairman, Rt Hon John Gummer MP, Vice-Chairman, Zac Goldsmith

      A must read to see where the nonsense policies we have on energy come from. They bought the whole UN package, hook, line and sinker and still follow its dictates:.

      “We know that the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests result in an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. We know that the concentrations of these gases are the highest for 650,000 years, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004425, and that carbon dioxide concentrations have grown by 30%426 since the developed world began to industrialise.

      We know that global warming is real and accelerating. We can see a strong correlation between the growth in greenhouse gas concentrations and increases in temperature.

      Therefore it is difficult to disagree with the conclusion of the unprecedented scientific consensus that underpins the latest IPCC report428, which states quite clearly that ‘it is very likely’ that the acceleration of global warming is due to the net emissions of greenhouse gases by humans.

      This conclusion means that it is also very likely that we can make a difference to the climate. There does appear to be a variable that we can control, namely the level of greenhouse gas emissions that we emit in our daily lives.”

      The Conservatives were of course in opposition at that time.

      • dennisambler permalink
        February 3, 2019 11:41 pm

        IPCC report428 – a page reference I neglected to delete.

  11. Stephen Bazlinton permalink
    February 3, 2019 2:47 pm

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  12. dennisambler permalink
    February 4, 2019 12:01 am

    I just read a little more of the “Quality of Life – Blue print for a green economy” document I quoted above, chaired by Gummer:

    It was a weighty tome with 549 pages. On page 385, he speaks of the Climate Change Committee, a fledgling body at that time:

    9.3.2.5. The importance of the Climate Change Committee

    “We see the concept of an independent Climate Change Committee as very important against a background of political failure to establish the credibility of existing targets and policy frameworks. It is clear that the Government sees this body as simply an advisory body. We would be more ambitious.

    Our ultimate vision is that the Committee would have the credibility and accountability to Parliament to be the body that sets and revises both the targets and the key carbon budgets. In the interim period, our instinct is that targets and budgets should continue to be set by the elected government of the day and the Committee should be adequately resourced under an independent Chairman and Chief Executive (appointed after confirmation hearings in front of select committees) to give an independent view on:

    -the adequacy of the statutory targets in response to the evolving scientific evidence of the IPCC;
    -the adequacy of carbon budgets proposed by the government which will determine the key trajectory of cumulative emissions;
    -the appropriate limit for the purchase of overseas carbon credits to comply with UK obligations; and
    -the feasibility of meeting the carbon budget. This is critical if we are to avoid a repetition of this Government’s state of denial in relation to the 2010 target.

    It should also:
    -give an independent annual report on the performance of government. This will be very important if we accept the principle of five year carbon budgets in which case the mechanism for accountability for annual performance will be critical.

    In the absence of annual targets we believe that the Climate Change Committee should publish an annual benchmark against which the government performance should be judged; and have the ability to develop in the public domain some forward thinking on more controversial policy options which may be required, such as personal carbon trading.

    In this context they can perform a useful function for government. The Climate Change Committee should also be asked to give an early opinion on the adequacy of the 2020 and 2050 statutory targets.

    This should flow from judgements formed on the appropriate stabilisation target for concentration of greenhouse gases that is compatible with 2°C and transparent assumptions on an equitable share for the UK and other developed economies.”

  13. Malcolm Bell permalink
    February 4, 2019 12:36 pm

    Gummer was a heavyweight member of the Church of England. It was him whi lead the lay blocking of Women Bishops on the presumed grounds that they do not have sufficient ethical personal rigour. (What else?)

    His behaviour shows him to have none.

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