Boris Johnson was forced to defend the Government’s handling of contracts after a watchdog revealed that companies recommended by MPs, peers and ministers’ offices were given priority during the race to obtain PPE.
It emerged that a number of multi-million pound contracts were awarded to companies and businessmen with little or no experience of supplying PPE. The chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier has called for all contracts to be published.
She told the Standard: “[Contracts] go up on the website… but they’ve been sloppy on this. They should put them up within 90 days of them being let and they are missing that by miles.
“We need more transparency not less. There’s lots of taxpayers’ money being spent without competition.
“They keep letting these new contracts with our money and we can’t see who is getting it and what they are supposed to be delivering.
“We need it sooner rather than later because they are not going through the normal process.”
The Government was under huge pressure to get more PPE at the start of the pandemic so many contracts had to be awarded without the usual competitive tendering process.
However, the National Audit Office report raised concerns about the so-called “VIP lane” of contracts.
It said that more than £10 billion in contracts were awarded without competition and not enough was done to address potential conflicts of interest.
MPs were said in the report to have paid £21 million to a middleman who acted as a go-between to provide PPE.