Early evening summary

  • David Cameron has rejected claims that his extensive and persistent lobbying of ministers and officials on behalf of Greensill Capital was motivated by fear that his personal stake in the company was at risk. In evidence to two separate Commons committees, lasting more than four hours, he also insisted that he was not aware that the company, which has now gone bust, was in financial trouble when he argued for it to have access to a government Covid emergency loan scheme. But he admitted that, as a former prime minister, it was not appropriate for him to be lobbying government on behalf of a commercial firm in the way that he did. (See 3.13pm.) The hearings saw Cameron face fierce criticism from opposition MPs (eg, see 3.20pm and 4.46pm.) But there were no disclosures likely to make the episode more damaging to his reputation than it already has been. Here is my colleague Jessica Elgot’s assessment.

And here is the start of the PA Media story about Cameron’s evidence.

David Cameron has accepted he had a “big economic investment” in Greensill Capital but denied that motivated his intense lobbying of the Government as coronavirus struck.

The Conservative former prime minister said it was a “painful day” as he gave evidence to MPs on Thursday over his controversial lobbying of senior figures including Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Cameron placed calls and sent dozens of texts and emails to ministers and senior officials as tried to win access to Covid support programmes for the since-collapsed financial firm.

Appearing virtually before the Commons Treasury committee, he insisted there was “absolutely no wrongdoing” in his lobbying attempts, but accepted that former prime ministers must “act differently”.

Cameron confirmed he was a “regular” attendee of Greensill’s board meetings but said there was “certainly no sense of jeopardy” over the firm’s future as the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Committee chairman Mel Stride questioned whether his “opportunity to make a large amount of money was under threat” as he sent a “barrage” of messages last spring when the pandemic broke.

Cameron replied: “I have spent most of my adult life in public service. I believe in it deeply.

“I would never put forward something that I didn’t believe was absolutely in the interests of the public good.

“I did not believe in March or April last year when I was doing this contact there was a risk of Greensill falling over.”

He repeatedly refused to say how much he stood to gain from his involvement with Greensill, saying it is a “private matter”, but he insisted that suggestions he was to make £60m are “completely absurd”.

“I had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill, so I wanted the business to succeed, I wanted it to grow,” Cameron said.

He said he had shares in the firm and was paid a “generous, big salary” which was “far more” than he made as prime minister, when he earned around £150,000 per year.

That’s all from me for tonight. Our coronavirus coverage continues on our global live blog. It’s here.

Updated

Meg Hillier, the chair, gets the final question.

Q: When you were PM, and I went to school assemblies and pupils asked what you were like, I said something positive. What should I say now?

Cameron says he would like to be seen as someone with “a record of public service” who put together the first coalition government in 70 years. He dealt with a tricky economic situation, and made a lot of changes, like equal marriage.

But explaining the decision he took on Greensill has been difficult, he says.

There will be lessons to learn, and he looks forward to reading what the committee recommends, he says.

And that’s it. The session is over.

Q: With hindsight, should you have asked more questions about the state of the company?

Cameron says Lex Greensill himself did not think the company was in trouble until December. So he does not see how he could have known it was in difficulty if the boss didn’t.

He says he did ask the proper questions.

Q: Was there more risk here than was understood?

Possibly, says Cameron. He says it is the job of the committee to make recommendations as to how to manage that. But it should also remember the importance of not losing the opportunity to innovate.

Q: And what have you learnt from this?

Cameron says he accepts former prime ministers are different, and have to act differently.

Sir Bernard Jenkin goes next.

Q: What lessons are to be learnt from this?

Cameron says he would be wary of making recommendations. He says government should not lose the chance to benefit from working with the private sector. And there are great advantages to be had from technical innovation, he says.

Q: How could Earnd afford to pay people earlier?

Cameron says there would have been a cost to Greensill.

Q: The NHS is one of the biggest employers in the world. How could Greensill afford this?

Because the cost would have been relatively low, says Cameron.

He says Lex Greensill described this as the company’s corporate responsibility programme.

Q: Did you know Bill Crothers joined Greensill when he was still at the Cabinet Office?

No, says Cameron. He says he did not know that when he was PM.

And when he was at Greensill, he did not know that Crothers had still been working for government for a period when he was working for the company.

Updated

Meg Hillier goes next.

Q: Have you disclosed all your contacts with Greensill?

Cameron says he thinks he gave the Treasury committee more than they wanted. He would have to chat to see if they have had all the contacts.

Q: You told the Treasury committee you spoke to Lex Greensill once a week. When did you learn the company was in financial difficulties?

David Cameron says there was conversation in December when he was told there was a problem.

Richard Holden (Con) asks if the pharmacy supply chain finance scheme just led to pharmacies putting up their costs for consumers, so they could recover the money.

Cameron says they were willing to pay a cost to be guaranteed early payment. So they benefitted and the government benefitted. Cameron says “without wanting to sound like Chinese politician”, that meant it was “a win-win” situation.

Updated

Q: Wasn’t it useful for Lex Greensill to introduce a scheme when he was in government from which his company subsequently benefited? (Greensill Capital later ran the pharmacy scheme.)

Cameron says he thinks that charge is unfair. When the scheme was first introduced, it was run by the government payment service. He says Greensill Capital did not take over management of it until six years later, after the contract was put out to tender.

Cameron says, in an ideal world, the Treasury would pay pharmacies on time. That would probably be cheaper all round.

But it does not work like that, he says. He says that is because bureaucracy holds up payment. And he says the Treasury does not like the cost of paying early.

Sarah Olney (Lib Dem) asks if there was a problem with cash flows to pharmacies. She suggests this idea was a solution searching for a problem.

Cameron says it was both. He says pharmacies like the scheme.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Con) goes next.

Q: At what stage were you involved in the pharmacy supply chain finance initiative?

Cameron says he does not recall exactly, but he assumes a plan was worked up, it went into his red box, and he approved it, and the launch, at the same time.

Q: So why was the idea not applied elsewhere in government?

Cameron says he does not have an answer.

Q: Why did Greensill have an office in No 10?

Cameron says he thinks it was the Cabinet Office, not No 10.

Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con) goes next.

Q: This committee is looking at value for money, not lobbying. But the “revolving door” syndrome might affect how much people in government are willing to pay private companies.

Cameron says he understands the point. There is an appointment process, he says. But he thinks former ministers should be allowed to take up commercial roles.

Peter Grant (SNP) goes next.

Q: Why did you start working for Greensill?

Cameron says it took him a while to choose a commercial job to do. He says he liked the idea behind Greensill. It was a potential UK fintech success story. He did due diligence. But ultimately it failed.

As PM he had promoted fintech, and so he wanted to help a fintech company.

He says Greensill never raised the prospect of a job when Cameron was in office.

But he says the fact that he had promoted fintech as PM meant he had some understanding of the sector. It was “a point of shared interest”. But there was no other connection.

Q: And what did they see in you?

That is more a question for them, Cameron says.

He says they were small but growing, and competing with bank. He thinks they wanted someone who would roll up their sleeves and get involved. The public sector side of it did not come til later. Initially he was there to help Greensill win big, commercial customers.

Q: So how did you start lobbying?

Cameron says, when Covid happens, Greensill needed to get government to take an interest in its idea. That is when he got involved.

He says they also thought, if the technology could be used to pay suppliers early, it could also be used to pay workers early. Cameron says he thought this was a good idea, and Greensill thought it would offer it free to employees and employers in the NHS.

Barry Gardiner (Lab) goes next.

Q: How did Greensill end up working for government?

Cameron says Sir Jeremy Heywood brought him in. He says he is sure he was informed of this. Greensill was given an office and a pass. But he cannot find a paper record of this.

Q: You gave him a shout-out at an event in 2014. When Liam Fox resigned, he said he had allowed his professional and personal responsibilities to become blurred. Did that happen to you?

No, says Cameron. He says he thinks he met Greensill just twice when he was PM. On of those occasions was the one mentioned by Gardiner.

The shout-out was because he thought this was a good initiative, says Cameron.

Q: So that was just your natural bonhomie.

Cameron says he would like to think so, but he can’t recall the event.

Q: If it such a good idea, why did only one major scheme get off the ground in your time.

Cameron says that is a good question. He says he can’t really answer, but the Cabinet Office might be able to answer, or the late Sir Jeremy Heywood, who brought Lex Greensill into government as an adviser, but he is no longer with us, Cameron says.

Q: Isn’t it really because the Treasury knows it will cost the government more.

Cameron does not accept that. He says pharmacists like the scheme.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Con) starts.

Q: When were you aware of supply chain finance when you were in office?

David Cameron says he does not think he met Lex Greensill until 2012. Greensill was working on two schemes: a project for the private sector, which would help them with cash flow during the credit crunch, which he was in favour of; and the scheme for pharmacies.

Q: Does supply chain finance have a role in the public sector?

Cameron says the pharmacy scheme shows it can. It saved the NHS £100m. He says in theory the government could pay bills more quickly, but in practice that does not happen.

And the Treasury could face a cost if it paid bills earlier.

Cameron questioned by Commons public accounts committee

The public accounts committee hearing with David Cameron is starting now.

Meg Hillier, the chair, says she hopes it will only take an hour or so.

She says the members watched the earlier hearing, and so they won’t duplicate those questions.

There is not much sympathy for David Cameron amongst the Twitter commentariat.

This is from the Independent’s sketch writer Tom Peck.

“No matter how laudable the cause,” says David Cameron. Yes, all so laudable. Such great deeds were done over at Greensill. Nothing screams ‘laudable’ like massively over-securitising non existent assets, eleven years on from the financial crisis.

— Tom Peck (@tompeck) May 13, 2021

And this is from the Times columnist Matt Chorley.

2021 David Cameron is really socking it to 2018 David Cameron for not checking what he was doing and 2010 David Cameron for not putting rules in place to stop him doing it

— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) May 13, 2021

This is from the Sunday Times’ Gabriel Pogrund, who has helped the paper break some of the best stories on Greensill.

NEW: David Cameron discloses that the taxpayer pays a "proportion" of his chief of staff Laurence Mann's salary.

Mann, ex-No 10 official, for weeks refused to engage with the Sunday Times or Financial Times

Neither confirmed nor denied basic facts or allegations.

— Gabriel Pogrund (@Gabriel_Pogrund) May 13, 2021

This is from Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, on David Cameron’s evidence to the Treasury committee on Greensill.

David Cameron's defence is that everything that he did in all of his secret lobbying for Greensill was within the rules.

That's the problem Dave. That's why we need to scrap this broken system that does nothing to regulate the revolving door, dodgy lobbying & favours for mates.

— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) May 13, 2021

David Cameron is getting a short break. The public accounts committee says it will not start until about 5.10pm.

*STARTING IN 15 MINUTES*

Mr Cameron will take a brief break and we will begin questioning at approx 1710

Watch here🎬📺https://t.co/1FnXEwEkGE

- starting live in c.15 minutes or watch anytime in archive

A transcript will also be available in the next 24-48 hours https://t.co/V6tlZ1EGxs

— Public Accounts Committee (@CommonsPAC) May 13, 2021

Mel Stride ends the session by thanking Cameron for attending and for answering questions that were difficult for him.

But there won’t be much of a rest. Cameron is probably now finding the Zoom invite for the public accounts committee, which is due to start its hearing with him at 5pm.

Ali says, when Covid contracts were being handed out, there was a separate VIP route for procurement. The Treasury said no to the CCFF proposal. But the Treasury did help Greensill get access to CBIL (coronavirus business interruption loans). She says she has no pleasure in saying a former PM has been used by someone acting as “con artist”.

Cameron says the CBIL application process was a separate one.

Ali ends by saying it is “bitterly disappointing” what has happened because it has been appalling for our democracy.

Ali says, having listened to Cameron’s evidence, people will be alarmed by the way Cameron allowed himself to be used, bringing the office of former PM into disrepute. He should have been much more careful about due diligence, she says.

Cameron says that he takes “a different view”. He worked for the company because he thought it had a good product, and he did due due diligence, he says.

He says before he became PM people did not know who was lobbying government.

From the BBC’s business editor Simon Jack

Cameron very keen to stress repeatedly that he made no lending or risk decisions - essentially saying I was there to knock on doors. His due diligence on what he was selling seems to have been largely satisfied by the decision of General Atlantic to invest in Greensill.

— Simon Jack (@BBCSimonJack) May 13, 2021

Labour’s Rushanara Ali puts it to Cameron that he did not do due diligence on Greensill before he joined, or else he turned a blind eye to its problems. She says his reputation is in tatters.

Cameron does not accept that. He says he was an adviser to the company. He was not on the board, he did not involved in lending decisions, and he was not on the credit or risk committees, he says.

He says Greensill cannot be accused of not supporting the steel industry, and of lending too much money to Gupta. Perhaps it should have been more sceptical of Gupta, he says.

Cameron says he is meeting Nigel Boardman, the banker asked to investigate the Greensill affair for the government, next week.

Baker says he has a “delicate” question to ask.

Q: When you were PM, did Lex Greensill advise you on supply chain finance. And did he ever hint you might get a job with him later?

Cameron says Greensill came up with the plan for pharmacies. That was in 2012. He says he thinks he met Greensill twice. He says “at no stage did he ever suggest that I would go and work with him or for him afterwards”.

From the Financial Times’ Jim Pickard

- Tuesday: Greensill plays down his work for GFG/Liberty Steel, saying they weren't biggest client

- Thursday: Cameron expresses retrospective concerns about "concentration of Gupta" (in Greensill loans) and says it was "symbiotic relationship which went wrong between the two"

— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) May 13, 2021

Cameron says he was a passionate enthusiast for Greensill’s Earnd app because he thought it would reduce the need for payday lending.

Steve Baker (Con) asks about Greensill’s supply chain finance for pharmacies.

Cameron says people say this is unnecessary because the government could just pay pharmacies more quickly. But he says it is not as simple as that because sometimes early payment won’t happen. And he says although the Treasury is in theory in favour of early payment, in practice it isn’t because that involves more borrowing.

Some of the early posts have been beefed up with direct quotes. You may need to refresh the page to get the updates to appear.

Mel Stride, the chair, returns to the matter of Cameron’s pay. Was it over £1m?

Cameron says it was a generous salary, the sum someone might make working for a bank. It was “a generous salary”.

He says if he had gone to work for a large bank, like some of his predecessors, he may have made even more. But he did not want to work for a large bank. He wanted to work for fintech company.

Angela Eagle (Lab) asks if Cameron has any message for people who work at Liberty Steel?

Cameron says he wants the UK to have a steel industry. But he says that it is not simply a matter of saying that Greensill is to blame for what happened to Liberty Steel. They had a symbiotic relationship, he says.

Anthony Browne (Con) asks Cameron whether he checked what he was telling the Treasury about Greensill was correct.

Cameron says the information was checked carefully. He thinks the letter went through several drafts. He wanted to be sure he was getting it right.

Q: What would you do differently?

Cameron says, if you work for a company that goes into administration, you ask if you made the right choice. He did due diligence, he says. But he thinks about that.

With regard to contacting the Treasury, he has said a formal letter would be better, coming from a former PM. But they were in special circumstances.

Q: Anything else?

Cameron says he would like to have got to a better solution as to how to amend the CCFF more quickly.

And he says he took a time issuing his lengthy statement because he expected someone else to come out defending Greensill. He felt that was not his job, explaining why it went bust.

Cameron says the UK must continue to be a financial innovator.

There are lots of thing that banks used to do badly, that other companies are doing better. For example, remittances - money sent abroad. He says, as we improve regulation, we should not lose the ability to deliver low-cost finance more effectively.

Updated

This is from David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary, on the exchanges at 3.20pm.

Remarkable David Cameron can keep a straight face after having his words on lobbying read back to him by @Siobhain_Mc.

The @Conservatives’ sleaze and hypocrisy is holding Britain back. https://t.co/OECTqtC3hu

— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) May 13, 2021

Cameron does not deny using Greensill's private jet to fly to holiday home in Cornwall

Q: How many times did you use Greensill plans to fly to your home in Cornwall? Is this a taxable benefit?

Cameron says he used the plane quite a lot on business visits, and “a handful of times” on other visits. All proper taxes will be dealt with, he says.

UPDATE: Cameron said:

I haven’t got a complete record of the use of the planes.

It was used quite a lot by Lex Greensill and senior managers, and sometimes myself on business visits.

I did use it a handful of times on other visits, and of course all proper taxes and all those things would be dealt with in the proper way.

Updated

Q: How much were you paid? More than Boris Johnson earned as a backbencher?

Cameron says he was well paid. He had an interest in the company. But he was not affected by the amount, so he considers that a private matter, he says.

Q: But isn’t this a matter of public interest?

Cameron says, in talking to the government, he was motivated by how to help small businesses.

Q: But if the company had floated you would have been a multi-millionaire.

Cameron says, when Lex Greensill was at the committee on Tuesday, the MPs did not ask him how much he earned.

Q: It is reported in the Wall Street Journal you made several million dollars from selling shares in 2019. Did you pay UK tax on them?

Cameron says he pays UK tax on everything. Some of his earnings are to help fund his office, and some are for personal benefit, he says.

Labour’s Angela Eagle goes next. She says the 56 messages that Cameron sent seem “more like stalking”.

I read your 56 messages and they’re more like stalking than lobbying - looking back are you at least a little bit embarrassed about the way you behaved?

Cameron says Greensill thought they had a good idea, and he wanted it in front of government.

Q: Did you ever call yourself a director of Greensill?

Cameron says there was letter that referred to a “fellow director”, but that was a mistake.

Q: Are you aware the concept of a shadow director?

Cameron says that applies to someone controlling a company who is not actually on the board. He says she was not “in any way” controlling the company.

In my case, there’s absolutely no question that I was in any way controlling this company while not being on the board, so I don’t think that applies to me at all.

Updated

Q: It is said that Lex Greensill was offering meetings with you if people in government agreed to meet him?

Cameron says he is not aware of that. But he did a lot of meeting for the firm, he says.

Q: Do you regret your involvement with Greensill?

Cameron says, when you work for a firm that goes into administration, you think what other decisions you might have made.

Since leaving No 10 his main focus has been working on Alzheimer’s and dementia and fragile states, he says.

He says he wanted business interests too. Greensill seemed like an exciting company, he says.

But the dementia board he chairs looking at early diagnosis and finding a cure is the most important thing he does. He says he may now have more time for that work.

Felicity Buchan (Con) is asking the questions now.

Q: Did your view of the company change over time?

Cameron says when he joined the firm in 2018 it was attracting considerable investment, from companies like SoftBank.

While he was at the company, there were good signs of strengthening.

But the concentration of risk with Sanjeev Gupta was an issue, he says.

From the Financial Times’ Jim Pickard

- Cameron's defence is Treasury officials didn't spend a disproportionate time on Greensill proposals

- but Nick Macpherson, ex-Treasury perm sec, has said: "It was disappointing that officials’ time was wasted when that was a valuable commodity because of the wider crisis...”

— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) May 13, 2021

Labour’s Emma Hardy is asking the questions now.

Q: Do you think making 56 contacts with government was appropriate at a time when they dealing with the pandemic?

Cameron says senior civil servants have told MPs that these communications were not excessive or a distraction.

Hardy asks about 3 April. On that day Cameron contacted the chancellor, the economic secretary to the Treasury, Downing Street, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, Michael Gove and Tom Scholar. All in all, there were two calls and 16 written communications to six different people. Was the appropriate?

Cameron says that was when the decisions were being taken. But, looking back, he would contact government differently now.

Cameron says he was contracted to work a certain number of days for Greensill, but he comfortably exceeded that because he was enthusiastic about the business.

He spoke to Lex Greensill about once a week, he says.

Cameron says civil servants were “clearly” not intimidated by communication from him.

But he says he can see an argument for saying that a committee should advise former prime minister on what commercial work is appropriate.

He says there is not really a roadmap for an ex-PM, “particularly for a younger one”, who wants not just to sit on a board and give speeches, but to “get stuck in and help a business grow”. There might be a role for a committee to give advice to people in this situation.

  • Cameron suggests his relative youth as an ex-PM may have been a factor in his launching into a business career. Cameron is 54.

Cameron says Gordon Brown has said former PMs should not have any contact at all with government.

He does not agree, he says. He says he can imagine someone like Brown or John Major running a bank. He says as PM he used to talk to the head of BP. Companies like that should be able to talk to government, he says.

Updated

Cameron says in future any former PM contacting the government on a commercial matter should send a formal letter or a formal email. But these were exceptional times.

He was passionate about Greensill because he thought their service would help small businesses.

The banks are “on speed-dial with the Treasury”, he says.

But lending has changed. Fintech firms and non-bank financial institutions are lending huge sums, he says.

Updated

This is from Pat McFadden, a shadow Treasury minister, on Cameron’s evidence.

David Cameron says Treasury officials felt it was a “worthwhile conversation”. Really? 10 times? Did any other financial institution that didn’t have the former PM texting everyone under the sun on it’s behalf get 10 meetings with Treasury officials?

— Pat McFadden (@patmcfaddenmp) May 13, 2021

McDonagh criticises Cameron for treating Lex Greensill as a “reincarnation of Mother Theresa”.

Q: You wanted access to the NHS to benefit Greensill.

Cameron says he does not accept that at all. He says the Greensill proposal for NHS staff to be able to access their pay early would have tackled the problem of payday lending. He says this is a problem that McDonagh may even have raised with him when he was PM.

Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh is asking the questions now. She quotes from the speech Cameron gave on lobbying in 2010. He said:

We all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisers for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way.

Cameron says his government did change the rules on lobbying. At the time of the speech, multi-client lobbyists could fix up meetings with ministers without people knowing who they were lobbying for. That has stopped, he says.

UPDATE: Cameron said:

When I made those remarks there had just been, I think, a lobbying scandal involving a firm that was approached by a journalist, pretending to be from the government of Uzbekistan.

The lobbying firm in question said ‘we can get you into ministers, we can get you to see people and no-one needs to know who you are lobbying on behalf of’.

So, the change that the Lobbying Act brought in - I know it’s criticised now but that changed the Lobbying Act ... to make sure that multi-client lobbyists had to register who their clients were ...

You got two very valuable tools to make sure we can see who is lobbying whom and on whose behalf.

With my interactions from Greensill to the government, I absolutely knew that if the meetings I wanted to take place that did take place, they would be properly reported on, and everyone would know about them, and that is absolutely right.

Updated

Q: Did the Treasury come to a wrong decision on Greensill and the CCFF?

Cameron says they came to “very justifiable decision”. He says Greensill could have acted more quickly to come up with a better proposal.

Extracts from Cameron's opening statement to Treasury committee

Here are some extracts from Cameron’s opening statement. I have taken the quotes from PA Media.

On this being “a painful day”

This is a painful day, coming back to a place that I love and respect so much, albeit virtually, but in these circumstances.

I have had plenty of time to reflect on what has happened.

I welcome this inquiry and its related reviews, and I believe there are important lessons to be learned.

On how his plans after leaving No 10

It was the greatest honour of my life to be prime minister of this country.

When my service as prime minister came to an end, I wanted to build a new career based on a mix of charitable and pro-bono work for causes that I care about, like dementia and international development, and business interests in areas of cutting-edge technology.

I believe that an ex-prime minister should be able to do that and I thought carefully about the choices I made, and took extensive advice.

On what was wrong

Rules alone are never enough.

We learnt that in this place over so many issues, personal conduct and codes of behaviour, and how such conduct and behaviour both appears and can be perceived, these things matter too.

I completely accept that former prime ministers are in a different position to others because of the office that we held and the influence that continues to bring.

We need to think differently and act differently.

On his work for Greensill

I started working as a senior adviser to Greensill Capital in August 2018.

Lex Greensill wanted me to help him grow what was becoming a successful UK-based fintech firm.

There was geopolitical and strategic advice, helping with international expansion, speaking at customer and supplier events, and helping to win new customers.

On the work Lex Greensill did for government when Cameron was PM

I had seen how this had worked in government when Lex Greensill was brought in by Jeremy Heywood to advise my administration from 2011.

Though at the time, as I have explained, I only met him very briefly.

Harriet Baldwin (Con) is asking the question now. She asks about Cameron’s relationship with Sir Tom Scholar, the permanent secretary at the Treasury.

Cameron says Scholar worked for him when he was PM.

Q: You signed off your text to him “love DC”. Do you have a close friendship with him?

Cameron says they have met once or twice since he left office. He signs off any messages to people he knows like that. He says he is not sure why, but he does. He says his children tell him there is no need to sign off text messages with anything.

Anyone I know even at all well, I tend to sign off text messages with ‘love DC’ - I don’t know why, I just do.

My children tell me that you don’t need to sign off text messages at all and it’s very old fashioned and odd to do so.

Updated

Cameron says Greensill made a “mistake” because it did not come up with a proposal for how it could be allowed to access the CCFF properly quickly enough.

Cameron says his Greensill lobbying was not motivated by fear he would lose from the firm failing

Q: In your letter to us you said it was only in December 2020 you found out Greensill was in serious financial difficulties. But did you know there were concerns earlier? Many people would conclude that, at the time of your lobbying, you knew that the firm had problems and that your chance to make a large amount of money was at risk. Is that why you made so many attempts to get help from government?

Cameron says that is not what he felt at the time, and that is not what motivated him.

He says the business had a successful year.

He believed in the business, he says. He says he would not have promoted the business if he did not think it was for the public good.

When he was lobbying for the business, he did not think it was in trouble.

If it had been in trouble, it would have furloughed staff. It had 1,000 staff. But it only used furlough in December, when six people were furloughed.

He says he contacted the government because he thought the firm had good ideas that would work.

UPDATE: Here is the quote from Cameron.

I have spent most of my adult life in public service. I believe in it deeply. I would never put forward something that I didn’t believe was absolutely in the interests of the public good.

I did not believe in March or April last year when I was doing this contact there was a risk of Greensill falling over.

Updated

From Simon Jack, the BBC’s business editor

Cameron so far. Jeremy Heywood mentioned twice as the man who brought Greensill in. Had no idea Greensill was in any trouble in April 2020. My job was never designed as a lobbying but urgency of situation made it make sense. I did attend board meetings. Wasn't on risk committee

— Simon Jack (@BBCSimonJack) May 13, 2021

Cameron says Greensill paid him 'far more' than he made as PM - but calls claims he could have made £60m 'absurd'

Q: What was your arrangement with the business? It has been said you told friends you could make £60m if the business had gone well.

Cameron says he was paid “a generous annual amount”, that was “far more” than he made as PM (which was around £150,000). And he had shares, he says.

So he wanted the business to grow, he says.

He had a “serious economic interest”.

But he says he does not think the actual amount at stake is relevant. That is “a private matter”, he says.

Q: Is the £60m figure absurd?

Cameron says that is “completely absurd”.

But he says he wants to tell the MPs why he thought helping Greensill to extend credit was a good idea.

UPDATE: Here is the quote from Cameron.

I was paid an annual amount, a generous annual amount, far more than what I earned as prime minister, and I had shares, not share options but shares in the business, which vested over the period of time of my contract ...

I had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill, so I wanted the business to succeed, I wanted it to grow.

The fact that I have this economic interest in a serious economic interest that’s important, but I don’t think the amount is particularly germane to answering those questions, and as far as I’m concerned it’s a private matter ...

Updated

After Cameron’s opening statement, Mel Stride, the committee chair, said it went on for longer than agreed. He asked for an assurance that Cameron could come back if they failed to get through the all the questions. Cameron said they had two hours, and he would see after that. Stride asked for a promise he would come back if necessary. Eventually Cameron agreed.

Cameron says he started working for Greensill in August 2018. Lex Greensill wanted it to become a successful fintech firm.

He says Lex Greensill advised the government when he was PM, but he says he only met him briefly.

He says he was not employed by Greensill as a lobbyist. But in the Covid crisis, he thought he would be able to help.

He says he contacted the chancellor and others directly because he knew decisions had to be taken quickly.

He says he thought Greensill supply chain finance was a good thing. It could deal with the scourge of payday lending, he says.

He says he did not know Greensill was in financial difficulties.

He ends by saying he thinks there is a case for making the rulings of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (the body that advises ministers on what commercial jobs they can take after they leave government) mandatory.

He also says former prime ministers could be made to wait longer than other people before being allowed to take up jobs.

Updated

Cameron says former prime ministers are in a different position to other ex-MPs.

He says lobbying is a necessary part of government.

But having an ex-PM do this can be “open to misinterpretation”, particularly when he is using informal means of communication like text messages.

Cameron says this is 'a painful day' for him as he opens his evidence

David Cameron is making an opening statement. He says “this a painful day” for him.

After being PM, he wanted another career, he says.

He says he abided by the rules. “But rules alone are never enough.”

How conduct is perceived matters too, he says.

My colleague Rupert Neate has also summarised the key questions he thinks David Cameron has to answer.

This is what the Treasury committee said in a press notice about the topics it would be covering in its session with David Cameron.

The committee is likely to examine the failure of Greensill Capital and Mr Cameron’s knowledge of it.

The committee is also likely to seek views on Mr Cameron’s relationship with civil servants, his actions in the context of him being a former prime minister, the nature of his role at Greensill, and the amount of lobbying that he undertook.

Updated

David Cameron faces questioning by MPs over Greensill

David Cameron will soon start an unusual, and much-anticipated, double select committee grilling over his lobbying for Greensill Capital. Here is his timetable for the afternoon.

2.30pm: Treasury committee

5pm: Public accounts committee

Both sessions will focus on how Cameron lobbied on behalf of Greensill Capital last year, messaging officials and former ministerial colleagues and pushing for Greensill, a firm specialising in supply chain finance, to get access to one of the government’s Covid lending schemes (the CCFF, or Covid Corporate Financing Facility). The Treasury said no. Cameron has not broken any rules, but the extent and informality of his lobbying has raised questions about whether a former prime minister should be able to lobby on behalf of a commercial client in this manner.

The story has also attracted considerable attention because it shows Cameron in an unflattering light. The two charges against him are: 1) that he has been excessively greedy (one calculation is that he could have made around £200m from his involvement in Greensill); and 2) that he has been naive (he promoted Greensill as a sound company, but it went bust).

In short, it’s a tale about how “Call me Dave” (the chillaxed, easy-going prime minister) turned into “Call me, Dave” (the persistent opportunist on the make).

Updated

Summary of Downing Street lobby briefing

Here are the main points from the Downing Street lobby briefing.

  • The prime minister’s spokesman hinted that local surge vaccination schemes might be used in response to Covid spikes. (See 1.02pm.) He went further than Boris Johnson did in his interview this morning (see 12.34pm) to play down the idea that local lockdowns might be needed again, but he did not rule it out. (See 12.55pm.)
  • The spokesman said that the PM was happy for Lord Geidt to publish the findings of his inquiry into the refurbishment of the Downing Street by the end of this month. (See 12.13pm.)
  • The spokesman confirmed that Downing Street was working to get the county court to strike down a judgment against the prime minister over an alleged unpaid debt. The spokesman would not be drawn on a report that the claim originated with a Covid conspiracy theorist who has launched multiple legal claims against government figures. He said:

Courts do have the power to strike down vexatious claims as an abuse of the court, and they do issue various orders restricting litigants’ ability to continue with further claims. We’re working on getting that removed.

  • The spokesman defended the government’s approach to granting fishing rights in UK waters to EU boats. Asked about the reports that France is threatening to delay an EU financial services deal with Britain unless their fishermen get better access, the spokesman said the UK was adopting a “consistent, evidence-based approach to licensing EU vessels, using information provided by the European Commission”. He went on:

This threat is another example of the EU issuing threats at any sign of difficulties, instead of using the mechanisms of our new treaty to solve problems. We have always been clear that an agreement on financial services is in the best interests of both sides.

  • The spokesman defended the government’s plan to require photo ID at polling stations in the light of Ruth Davidson calling it “total bollocks”. (See 9.02am.) He said requiring voter ID was a Conservative manifesto commitment. He also stressed there were other important measures in the bill, such as a move extending the list of people allowed to support disabled people voting at polling stations.

Updated

No 10 hints local surge vaccination programmes could be used to deal with Covid spikes

At the No 10 lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman was also asked if the government was considering using surge vaccination programmes to deal with local Covid spikes. The spokesman replied:

We want to consider all options. As the PM said earlier, today we are not going to rule anything out. We want to make sure that we keep the public safe and keep out roadmap on track.

The meeting is happening with Sage today. Should they come up with any further update on this variant emerging in India, and the epidemiology in the UK, then we will consider it.

The spokesman said that until now the vaccines have been rolled out at the same pace across England. But he said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and others, kept this policy under review.

Updated

At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman went further than the prime minister did in his interview earlier (see 12.34pm) in playing down the prospect of a return to local lockdowns in response to surges of the Indian variant.

The spokesman said there was nothing in the data currently to suggest the government would have to move away from the plans in the roadmap (which envisages the full lifting of restrictions in England from 21 June).

Asked if there might be a return to regional tiering (ie, local lockdown measures), the spokesman said the focus at the moment was on surge testing and contact tracing locally. But he said Sage, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, was meeting today, and ministers would consider any further advice.

He also said the roadmap for easing lockdown restriction in England published in February was “very clear” about what would happen if there were local surges, and that some of these measures had been taken.

When pressed again on whether tiering was still a possibility, the spokesman said:

We have set out what we want to do on the roadmap, moving together as a nation on this, and that has been very successful so far.

So there are no plans to reintroduce tiering measures. Like I say we have got a raft of measures available to us which are already in place, with regards local testing, surge testing and tracing.

The roadmap said the government wanted “to ease restrictions at the same time across the whole of England”. But it also explicitly said that local lockdown would remain an option. It said:

Where a dangerous variant of concern is identified and is likely to pose a real risk to the vaccination programme or public health, the government will take a highly precautionary approach, acting fast to address outbreaks. The government is developing an enhanced toolkit of measures to address variants of concern, including surge PCR testing, enhanced contact tracing, communications and targeted enforcement

The government cannot rule out reimposing economic and social restrictions at a local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a variant which escapes the vaccine.

Updated

Johnson refuses to rule out using local lockdowns to deal with possible surges of Indian variant

Boris Johnson has been visiting a primary school in County Durham where he has been speaking to the media. Here are the key points he made.

  • Johnson refused to rule out using local lockdowns to deal with possible surges of the Indian variant of coronavirus. Asked about concerns over the Indian variant circulating in the UK, Johnson said:

It is a variant of concern, we are anxious about it ...

At the moment there is a very wide range of scientific opinion about what could happen.

We want to make sure we take all the prudential, cautious steps now that we could take, so there are meetings going on today to consider exactly what we need to do. There is a range of things we could do, we are ruling nothing out.

Asked if local lockdowns were possible, Johnson replied:

There are a range of things we could do, we want to make sure we grip it.

Obviously there’s surge testing, there’s surge tracing.

If we have to do other things, then of course the public would want us to rule nothing out. We have always been clear we would be led by the data.

At the moment, I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on 21 June, everywhere, but there may be things we have to do locally and we will not hesitate to do them if that is the advice we get.

Here is my colleague Ian Sample’s latest story on the Indian variant.

  • Johnson said it was too soon to say whether masks and social distancing would be able to be abandoned in June. Asked if these measures were going, Johnson said:

I think we have to wait a little bit longer to see how the data is looking but I am cautiously optimistic about that and provided this Indian variant doesn’t take off in the way some people fear, I think certainly things could get back much, much closer to normality.

Updated

Lord Geidt's evidence to MPs on ministerial code - Summary and analysis

Here are the main points from Lord Geidt’s evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee earlier. It was the first time he has spoken in public since his appointment, and he probably went some way to persuading MPs that he would take a reasonably robust approach to the job. For example, when Labour’s John McDonnell put it to him that Boris Johnson was “a prime minister who does not recognise the umpire”, Geidt did not try to dispute this assessment. Instead he just stressed that he was new in the job and that he was going to see how things worked out.

Here are the main points.

  • Geidt, the new independent adviser on ministers’ interests, said that he would publish the findings of his inquiry into who paid for the refurbishment of the PM’s Downing Street flat by the end of this month. The PM has asked him to investigate this (and the claims the bill was originally paid by Tory HQ), and Geidt said it would be published alongside the latest update to the register of ministers’ interests, which was due to be published at the end of last year. Geidt said:

I’m determined that [the new register] should be published by the end of this month. Public confidence, I think in my judgment, demands that this list be published without further delay.

The publication of the list of interests will include the prime minister. And of course, as part of my appointment, I have been asked to make an inquiry on the facts of the circumstances of the refurbishment of the flat at Downing Street and to advise the prime minister on his declaration of interests so that by the time we get to the end of the month we will have that declaration and alongside that I will report, and I will do so in a timely fashion - in other words simultaneously - a report that gives the necessary context to the declaration of ministers interests.

  • Geidt claimed that he now effectively now had the power to initiate an investigation into an allegation of a minister breaching the ministerial code. In the past the independent adviser has only been able to launch an investigation when asked to be the PM, which has been seen as a major weakness. When Geidt was appointed the terms of reference were changed (see here for the new version), and Geidt repeatedly suggested that this would make his role more powerful. In response to a question from Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle about what assurances he sought before he took on the job, Geidt replied:

I sought assurances that the terms of reference might be amended to take account of this capacity to initiate inquiries, which my predecessor did not enjoy.

And the further assurance that I received, and with enthusiasm by the prime minister, was that, once we had gone through the period of causing an investigation to take place, I would be able to cause that advice to be published and, critically, in a timely manner.

Geidt clearly thinks that, in practice, he will be able to initiate an inquiry. But the new terms of reference just say he can suggest this idea to the PM - something which his predecessor would have been able to do informally anyway under the old system. The new terms of reference say:

Where, in the assessment of the independent adviser, he believes an allegation about a breach of the code might warrant further investigation, he will raise the issue confidentially with the prime minister.

When asked what would happen if he wanted to initiate an inquiry, but the the PM said no, Geidt said he hoped that would not happen. But he also stressed that, as a last resort, he could resign - and that this was an outcome that the PM would want to avoid because it would be embarrassing.

Tim Durrant from the Institute of Government says that Geidt’s reading of what the revised terms of reference say about his being able to publish the findings of any inquiry may also go beyond what the carefully-worded document actually says.

Lord Geidt says the 'enhanced terms of reference' for his role include the ability to publish investigations in a timely manner, but that's not exactly what they say: pic.twitter.com/AriM1R2TaG

— Tim Durrant (@timd_IFG) May 13, 2021

It is worth pointing out that, in a letter (pdf) to the PM after the new terms of reference were published, Lord Evans, chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, welcomed the fact that some changes had been made but complained that “the adviser will still lack the authority to initiate investigations”.

  • Geidt hinted that he would resign if the prime minister ignored his recommendations. (See 10.43pm.)

These are from Catherine Haddon from the Institute for Government thinktank on Geidt’s appearance.

Geidt says 'would plan to contribute actively to the maintenance of the integrity of the office of PM'.

That's already a bit intriguing. Suggests he sees the role as watchdog for ministers, not just as investigator in chief.

— Dr Catherine Haddon (@cath_haddon) May 13, 2021

Not quite - he has assurances about his expectation of powers to be able to do 1 and 2.

But he is going very strong on how he sees the next while as a test of whether this 'delivers' public confidence and if not he has a 'license' to recommend further changes

Which is good https://t.co/8Z0M41Fjjm

— Dr Catherine Haddon (@cath_haddon) May 13, 2021

More impt stuff here from Geidt.

He is immersing himself in Min Code and its purpose.

His criteria for requesting inquiries is going to be based on whether person 'on the street' would see a problem with ministers behaviour.

— Dr Catherine Haddon (@cath_haddon) May 13, 2021

Updated

Northern Ireland secretary restates UK government's apology over Ballymurphy killings to MPs

In the Commons, in a statement to MPs, Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, has apologised on behalf of the government over the killing of 10 innocent civilians during an army operation in Northern Ireland in 1971. An inquest this week determined that nine of the dead were killed by soldiers using unjustified force. Lewis told MPs:

I want to put on record the government’s acknowledgement of the terrible hurt that has been caused to the families of Francis Quinn, Father Hugh Mullan, Noel Phillips, Joan Connolly, Daniel Teggart, Joseph Murphy, Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr, and John McKerr.

I also want to pay tribute to the great patience with which these families have conducted themselves during their determined campaign, which has lasted for almost 50 years. The prime minister is writing personally to the families, and expressed his deep regret to the first and deputy first ministers of Northern Ireland yesterday and has apologised unreservedly on behalf of the state.

The findings of the coroner are clear - those who died were entirely innocent of wrongdoing. The events at Ballymurphy should never have happened. The families of those who were killed should never have had to experience the grief and trauma of that loss ...

The vast majority of those who served in Northern Ireland did so with great dignity and professionalism. But it is clear that in some cases, the security forces and the army made terrible errors too ...

The government profoundly regrets and is truly sorry for these events, at how investigations after these terrible events were handled, and for the additional pain that the families have had to endure in their fight to clear the names of their loved ones since they began their campaign almost five decades ago.

Brandon Lewis
Brandon Lewis. Photograph: Parliament TV

Updated

Hospital waiting list numbers in England hit record high

The number of people in England waiting for hospital treatments or appointments has risen to a record high, PA Media reports.

Tom Randall (Con) goes next.

Q: Is it tricky advising the PM when you are also investigating him?

Geidt says that is an important question. He does not see any difficulties. He is well served because he has the power under the new terms of reference to publish “in a timely manner” his advice.

Q: If you were to recommend an investigation, and the PM were to refuse to allow an investigation, what would you do?

Geidt says in this case [ie, the flat case] he has the ability to publish that advice. So he is “very confident” that what he has to say as advice will be passed to the PM, and published.

That’s it. The hearing is now over.

I will post a summary shortly.

William Wragg, the chair, asks what criteria Geidt will use to decide whether or not an investigation should take place.

Geidt says he will be guided by the ministerial code. He is “deeply immersed” in it, he says. He wants to become instinctively familiar with it.

Geidt says he wants to see how the new terms of reference work before deciding whether or not to push for changes.

Geidt says it was “unfortunate” that the update to the register of ministers’ interests was not published in December 2020 as it should have been.

Inquiry into who paid for renovation of PM's flat to be published by end of month, MPs told

Geidt says the Cabinet Office is drawing up a revised list of ministers’ interests for him to publish.

He says that he is determined that it should be published by the end of this month.

That means the Downing Street flat inquiry conclusions should be published by then too, because Geidt said earlier he wanted them published at the same time. (See 10.16am.)

Geidt says he is “in the process” of receiving the papers.

He says the publication of the list of interests will cover the PM. He has been asked to find out what happened with the flat, and to advise the PM on his interests. Alongside that, he will publish a report giving “necessary context”.

Geidt hints that if PM ignores his recommendations, he might resign

David Jones (Con) goes next.

Q: Your predecessor, Sir Alex Allan, left after his advice in relation to Priti Patel was ignored. What will you do to ensure the PM does heed your advice?

Geidt says much will depend on whether he can build “a relationship of trust” with the PM.

He says his predecessor did not have a “right of audience” with the PM to discuss cases. Geidt says he does, under the new terms of reference. He says he intends to use that right to express his views.

He repeats the point about how the resignation of Allan may have increased confidence in the system. He says the PM will want to avoid further resignations.

Q: If the PM ignored your recommendations, would you resign too?

Geidt says he would hope it would not come to that. He is placing confidence in the adjusted terms of reference, he says.

But he says “the power is there, if you like, as a last resort”. He says he does not want to be drawn into a hypothetical discussion about when he might use it. But “the power is there”. He goes on: “If it came to it, I could do the same.”

Updated

John McDonnell (Lab) puts it to Geidt that he is working for a PM who does not tend to accept the view of the umpire.

Geidt says he will be willing to come back to the committee to explain how the new system is working in practice.

He says he would be happy for the committee to say whether it thinks the new terms of references are making a difference.

But he stresses that he does not want to see breaches of the rules occurring. It would be better if he could encourage people to obey the rules in the first place, he says.

Geidt says he also has to publish a report every year. He will use it to give “a full and fair account”, he says.

Geidt insists powers of independent advisers on ministers' interests have been beefed up

Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Lab) goes next.

Q: Do you think you have sufficient powers?

Geidt says it is to Boris Johnson’s credit that he has beefed up the powers of the role. That was the first time this had happened in a decade. But he says he knows that does not go as far as the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommended.

Q: What new powers do you have?

Geidt says his predecessor could do nothing until the PM asked him to carry out an investigation. Now the adviser can go to the PM and propose that an investigation should be carried out.

Q: Are you really saying that, under the old system, Allan could not have privately proposed to the PM that he carry out an investigation. Will you now be able to publicly propose an investigation?

Geidt says the new rules give “encouragement” to the adviser to recommend an inquiry.

Q: Will you be able to do this in public? To let people know that you want an investigation?

Geidt says at the moment it is a matter of giving advice in private, accepting that the PM has the ultimate say.

Q: Is it effective if this just happens in private?

Geidt says he does not know how this will work. He will not propose investigations into “vexatious claims”. But he says he intends to go to the PM, when he has looked into cases, [to recommend a formal investigation, he implies].

Geidt is implying he does not know yet whether the PM will refuse requests like this.

Q: Is “behind closed doors” a good way for the system to work?

Geidt says we need to try the system, and “judge the efficacy” of the system in due course.

Q: Did you seek any re-assurance when you took the job?

Geidt says there have been the first substantive changes to the job in 10 years.

Russell-Moyle says “substantive” is a judgment call. He says he does not accept the changes are not substantive.

Geidt says that he did seek assurances that the terms of the job would be amended so he could initiate investigations. And he said he got assurances that he would be able to publish his findings.

The new terms of reference for the post were published last month. They are here (pdf).

Updated

Geidt says he agrees that “rules are not sufficient to stimulate good behaviour”.

Geidt says the resignation of Sir Alex Allan, his predecessor as independent adviser on minsters’ interests, will have increased public confidence in the system.

Geidt says findings of his inquiry into PM's flat refurbishment to be published alongside updated register of ministers' interests

Jackie Doyle-Price (Con) asks how Geidt feels about the controversy surrounding his role.

Geidt says when he was first approached, he did not expect the appointment to attract so much interest. (The flat refurbishment story had not broken at that point.)

He says he has two immediate tasks: to scrutinise ministers’ interests, and publish a new list, after a 10-month gap; and to investigate the flat affair.

He says he plans to publish the advice about the flat alongside the updated register of ministers interests.

Lord Geidt giving evidence to MPs
Lord Geidt giving evidence to MPs Photograph: Parliament TV

Updated

Labour’s John McDonnell is asking the questions now. He asks how Geidt can be an ethics adviser when he used to work for an arms company, BAE Systems, that has been accused of being implicated in war crimes.

Geidt says the BAE Systems job was the first one he took when he left public service. He says his background as a solider made him suitable. He says the company plays a role in protecting British interests around the world. He acknowledges the concerns raised by McDonnell. But he stresses that the arms industry is regulated.

He was “proud” to do this job for a couple of years, because it aligned with his past experience, he says.

He says people in uniform should be properly equipped.

He has now stepped down from that role, he says.

William Wragg (Con), the committee chair, asks Geidt if he has ever had to say “no, minister” in his previous jobs. (He has worked as a diplomat, and as private secretary to the Queen.)

Geidt says he does not want to reveal the contents of confidential conversations. But he says he is someone able to “speak truth unto power”.

Updated

Lord Geidt, PM's new adviser on ministers' interests, questioned by MPs

Lord Geidt, who has just been appointed as the PM’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, has just started giving evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee.

Geidt is the person now investigating the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat, and who paid for it.

You can watch the hearing here.

My colleague Ben Quinn profiled him last month here.

Updated

Hindus and Muslim men most disproportionately affected by Covid deaths, ONS says

The Office for National Statistics has just published its report on Covid death rates by religion. Here are the main points.

  • Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews have had higher Covid death rates than Christians - even adjusting for age, the ONS says. (Some religious groups have a higher proportion of older people than others.) And people identifying as having “no religion” had even lower Covid death rates, it says. It says:

In England, people identifying as Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or Jewish had higher age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) for deaths involving coronavirus (Covid-19) than those identifying as Christian in the period 24 January 2020 to 28 February 2021.

Men and women in the “no religion” group, and women identifying as “other religion”, had lower ASMRs for deaths involving Covid-19 compared with the Christian group.

  • The ONS says for Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu men, the death rate was higher in the first wave of coronavirus than for Christian men - even adjusting for location, poverty, jobs, living arrangements or pre-existing health conditions. This was also true of Hindu women. It says:

In the first wave (defined as 24 January to 11 September 2020), adjustments for differences in location, measures of disadvantage, occupation, living arrangements, and pre-existing health conditions accounted for a large proportion of the excess Covid-19 mortality risk in those groups at higher risk; however, statistically significant increased risk remains unexplained for Hindu men and women, and men identifying as Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist, compared with those in the Christian group.

  • The ONS says that in the second wave the death rate was higher for Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs than for Christians - even adjusting for the same factors.
  • The ONS says Hindus and Muslim men have been disproportionately affected in both waves of the pandemic. It says:

The findings show that the patterns of excess Covid-19 mortality risk by religious group have changed over the course of the pandemic; after adjustments, the Hindu population and Muslim men were disproportionately affected throughout the pandemic; for other religious groups, the excess risk relative to the Christian group was only observed in the first wave (Jewish and Buddhist men) or second wave (Sikh men and women and Muslim women).

Updated

Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish parliament’s other party leaders have been sworn in as MSPs, PA Media reports. PA says:

Returning and new members are being sworn in following last week’s Holyrood election.

The first minister made an affirmation, followed by the Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, and the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, taking the oath.

Ahead of affirming, Sturgeon said the SNP “pledges loyalty to the people of Scotland in line with the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people”.

Before making the affirmation, the Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said he would like to reassert that his party’s “allegiance lies with the people of Scotland who elected this parliament and who are sovereign, and we look forward to the day when they can choose their own elected head of state”.

The oath states that MSPs “will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth”.

Updated

Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson says photo ID voting bill totally unnecessary

Good morning. The Queen’s speech earlier this week included a commitment to legislate to require people to provide photo ID when they vote, despite claims that this is unnecessary and that more than 2 million people might as a result find it harder go vote because they don’t now have the right documentation. So far Conservative opposition to the plan has been muted. But last night, on ITV’s Peston, Ruth Davidson, the former Conservative party leader in Scotland, condemned the idea in the strongest possible terms. She said:

They can’t cite any evidence of [electoral fraud being a problem] because I don’t think there’s ever any evidence to cite. I think in terms of this particular part of the Queen’s speech, I think it’s total bollocks, and I think it’s trying to give a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, and that makes it politics as performance.

And I think that given where we are and the year we’ve had, we’ve got real problems to solve in this country, and the idea that this is some sort of legislative priority I think is for the birds.

Although Davidson is too liberal and pro-remain to be an influential figure in Boris Johnson’s Conservative party, in the David Cameron era she was regularly tipped as a future party leader, she was a successful leader of the Scottish Conservatives for more than eight years and until the Holyrood elections she was leader of the party in the Scottish parliament. She will also soon take a seat in the House of Lords, where of course peers will get to scrutinise the electoral integrity bill before it can become law. Boris Johnson may not find it quite as easy to pass as he might have thought.

.@RuthDavidsonPC tells @Peston that the government proposal on voter ID is “total bollocks”

Catch us on Twitter and ITV at 10.45pm#Peston pic.twitter.com/pCnZwUIyMX

— Peston (@itvpeston) May 12, 2021

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes a report on Covid death rates in England by religion.

9.30am: NHS England publishes its latest waiting time figures.

10am: Lord Geidt, the new independent advisers on ministers’ interests, gives evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee.

2.30pm: David Cameron, the former prime minister, gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee about Greensill Capital.

2.30pm: Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, gives evidence to the Commons culture committee.

5pm: Cameron gives evidence to the Commons public accounts committee about Greensill Capital.

Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently, but today it will probably be non-Covid, with particular focus on the Geidt and Cameron select committee hearings. For more Covid coverage, do read our global live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Updated

Contributor

Andrew Sparrow

The GuardianTramp

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UK Covid: work from home guidance to be lifted on 21 June, Johnson indicates – as it happened
No 10 did not say whether Whitty and Vallance backed the move; No 10 won’t commit to Covid inquiry ending before next general election

Andrew Sparrow

12, May, 2021 @4:48 PM

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UK Covid: Johnson confirms France may go on 'red list' for border controls - as it happened
Latest updates: PM tells liaison committee that France is being considered for hotel quarantine measure and says decision could come ‘very soon’

Andrew Sparrow

24, Mar, 2021 @6:31 PM

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UK Covid: Burnham calls for surge vaccination for Manchester amid 6,048 new cases across the country – as it happened
Latest updates: mayor calls for rollout to be speeded up as latest figures show 60% weekly increase in new cases

Andrew Sparrow

08, Jun, 2021 @4:16 PM

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UK Covid: Burnham tells Sturgeon to justify Scotland ban on non-essential travel to and from Manchester – as it happened
Mayor of Greater Manchester writes open letter to Scotland’s first minister about decision ban on non-essential travel to and from city

Andrew Sparrow

21, Jun, 2021 @5:04 PM

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UK Covid live: Scotland keeps restrictions amid 40% case rise; nearly 250,000 English pupils missing school
Over nine thousand cases confirmed in English schools – worst figures since classes were fully reopened in March

Andrew Sparrow

22, Jun, 2021 @5:16 PM

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Greensill: Labour bid to establish wider inquiry into lobbying fails – as it happened
Prime minister questioned on controversy over Greensill’s influence within government with links to David Cameron and a senior civil servant

Yohannes Lowe and Rhi Storer

14, Apr, 2021 @3:49 PM

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No 10 refuses to deny Tory donor was asked to pay for Johnson son’s nanny – as it happened
Latest updates: spokesman says ‘prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare’ after claims donor was asked to fund nanny

Andrew Sparrow

04, May, 2021 @4:36 PM