Labour bring vote on release of Government correspondence over Teesside inquiry
Labour will bring a vote on the release of correspondence relating to the Government’s decision-making over an inquiry into a major development project.
Shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy has been calling for the National Audit Office (NAO) to lead the probe into Teesworks.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has ordered an independent investigation but opposition MPs have demanded an inquiry by the public spending watchdog rather than a panel “handpicked” by ministers.
Concerns about the scheme were previously raised by Middlesborough MP Andy McDonald in the Commons, who alleged “truly shocking, industrial-scale corruption” related to funding in Teesside.
Labour is now calling for the publication of documents “explaining why NAO was excluded from investigating” the issues surrounding the redevelopment project.
Ms Nandy said: “The steelworks are part of the civic inheritance for people on Teesside, and those people deserve answers. There was cross-party support, including from the Conservative mayor (Ben Houchen), for a NAO investigation into the serious allegations of misuse of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money and assets.
“But for some reason, ministers – who are responsible for the flawed system of accountability that has partly led to this situation – have chosen to set up a review where they will hand-pick the panel and terms.
“Today, MPs can vote with Labour to shed light on why they made this baffling decision, or they can opt to continue to deny answers to people on Teesside.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We have no seen evidence of corruption, wrongdoing, or illegality in relation to Teesworks, but these allegations are risking delivery of much needed jobs and economic growth in Teesside.
“The Government is appointing an independent panel to establish the facts, in line with usual practice for reviewing local government.
“It is not the NAO’s role to audit or examine individual local government bodies and it is not appropriate to so significantly expand the role of the NAO by asking them to lead any review.”