Labour MPs are hoping to bring a binding vote in Parliament on Wednesday to make public all correspondence relating to the Government’s decision to set up their own inquiry into the redevelopment of the Teesside steelworks, rather than a fully independent investigation by the public spending watchdog. 

The Conservative Mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, the Official Opposition and the chairs of three cross-party Select Committees all called for an investigation by the National Audit Office into the use of public money and assets by the South Tees Development Corporation. 

But, despite the NAO saying that they were “willing and able” to carry out that probe, Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove instead opted to set up their own review, with a panel and terms of reference chosen by Mr Gove. 

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This was hastily announced after the Prime Minister said at PMQs on May 24 that an investigation had been “already announced”, when nothing had yet been confirmed publicly. 

There have been growing calls for transparency after reports in the Financial Times that a 90 per cent stake in the company operating the vacant steel site was transferred to two local developers without any public tender process. 

While companies controlled by those developers have earned at least £45m in dividends from the project in the past three years, there is no evidence they have invested any of their own money into it. 

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The taxpayer, by contrast, has to date invested more than £260m, in addition to providing a public loan worth more than £100m. 

Concerns have also been raised about governance and accountability in relation to the project. 

The transfer of a 90 per cent stake in the steel site to private companies was undertaken without a public tender by the South Tees Development Corporation, a body chaired by Houchen, who also holds the power to recommend the Corporation’s board members. 

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Lisa Nandy MP, Labour’s Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, 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, 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.” 

The Government said it has continued to update parliament on the review and confirmed the report and any recommendations will be published in line with usual practice.

It said any interested party, including Members of Parliament, will be invited to make representations to the panel as part of their evidence gathering. 

A Government spokesperson said: “We have not 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.”