Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let's Ban 'Lobbying' Money to Pressure Groups

Simon Clark from the pro-smoking group FOREST has an article today on ConservativeHome which makes for interesting, and alarming, reading. It reveals the millions of pounds the government gives anti-smoking groups. What do they do with it? Use it to lobby the government!

It has been a hallmark of this government so far to ban quangos from employing lobbyists to lobby the very government departments which they report to. This ban should be extended to pressure groups in receipt of government funds too. If they want to lobby the government they can do what everyone else does - pay for it themselves.

Note: I am not a smoker. I hate smoking. But I do believe in freedom of choice.


Pogo said...

I'm slightly surprised that you didn't know about this sort of malarky... The same system applies to virtually all the "anti-alcohol" "charities" and most of the environmentalist lobby is government-financed as well.

Chris Mounsey of "Devil's Kitchen" notoriety is/was involved with a website that examines the accounts of many of these "charities" - (at the moment offline for reconstruction I think) - which makes for fascinating, if somewhat disquieting reading.

JJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dick Puddlecote said...

It's hard to justify such funding when cash is being restricted for schools and libraries. Especially since there is so much of it that Anne Milton couldn't identify even a ballpark figure when questioned.

Curmudgeon said...

Isn't "I hate smoking" a bit strong? Wouldn't it be better to say "I dislike people smoking in my presence, but if they want to do where it doesn't impact on me, then good luck to them"?

(I am a non-smoker, btw)

Toby said...

no, 'hate' isn't strong.

I don't 'Hate' smokers but I'd rather they didn't do it.
It smells deeply unpleasant (apart from some types of pipe baccy) gets everywhere, makes the eyes water

...and causes lung cancer, that kills people, and yes, its now personal.

so in reflection, yes, I hate smoking

Dr Evil said...

Is the government really canning these Quangos or just merging them with other outfits or into the civil service? I will really believe it when the Equalities Commission gets shot. And why does the government waste taxpayers money on organisations that pretend to be charities? Charities should have to rely solely on fundraising from the public. The gov can save a lot of money by ending taxpayer cash donations to ASH, Barnardos, Alcohol concerna nd the other oh so numerous fake charities.

Anonymous said...

This isn't just about smoking or ASH, it's about our taxes being thrown away on fake charities which then lobby the very government giving them OUR money. It simply has to stop. If people have a cause, then let them raise money by rattling tins. Otherwise they have no right to take our money and then try to pressurise our government with their agendas - the government we elected to do our will and not theirs.

timbone said...

@superioranalyst - "If people have a cause, then let them raise money by rattling tins."

It is illegal to rattle tins, another of the laws introduced by nulabour, it might intimidate people. I wonder which quango lobbied for that one?

James Burr said...

ASH certainly needs its funding cut. What sort of "charity" has so much money shovelled its way (not only in direct funding but in additional funding through the Department of Health, individual NHS Trusts, other charities such as Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation - who get most of their money from the tax payer, naturally) that the Government isn't actually sure how much of our money is spent on it?

Especially when most members of the public are so disinterested in their aims that less than £10,000 of their annual funding is actually donated by the public? (Or 0.2% of their funding in the case of ASH Scotland who have 27 full time employees beavering away on "Tobacco Control" day in and day out).

Also, why do such lobby groups have permanent staff in the Department of Health? Why are such lobby groups present on Government Committees, such as the SCOTH Committee that "advised" Parliament prior to the smoking ban? Why is the head of the supposedly independent YouGov polling organisation, which has done many surveys on the supposed popularity of the smoking ban, a card-carrying Trustee of ASH?

ASH are parasites. And worse they're insidious parasites who undermine the democratic process wherever they can. Let them survive on their £10,000 and on the huge wedge of cash they get from the pharmaceutical companies who use ASH to create policies and research that show how beneficial these companies' nicotene replacement products are.

But I cannot state strongly enough how much I object to my money going towards them.

DespairingLiberal said...

Pogo, Iain did know all about this before, he has raised it before.

Given the huge cost to the NHS of smoking-related diseases, shouldn't somebody pay for that and shouldn't that somebody be the tobacco industry? I presume the motivation for these donations was as part of a programme to reduce the burden on the NHS - isn't that something that tax-cutters should welcome?

Or is this protest on the part of Tories in fact (as usual) ideologically rather than pragmatically related?

Pogo said...

@DespairingLiberal: Given the huge cost to the NHS of smoking-related diseases, shouldn't somebody pay for that...

They do. If you look at Treasury figures rather than the garbage peddled by ASH and their like, you'll see that the tax-take from tobacco products is about 4 times the "extra" spent by the NHS on "smoking-related illness". HMG makes a damned-good profit from smokers.

Add to which the basic fact that on average smokers die younger (and generally faster), they take less out of the system in the form of pensions and long-term geriatric care.

I'm a life-long non-smoker BTW, I just prefer the idea of "freedom of choice" to "nanny knows best".

neil craig said...

I consider the extent to which government funds charities & other organisations to lobby for ever more & bigger government to be a major threat to our freedoms. The blogsphere term for charities derviing money at least equal to their advertising budgets as "fakecharities". I once blohhed on how the majority of organisations taking stalls at a LibDim conference were fakecharities or openly governmental.

This includes ASH, Friends of the Earth Europe, Carbon Trust, Terrance Higgins Trust, WWF, Shelter, etc etc. I recently found that Scottish Renewables, who exist to lobby for windmills are funded by, among others, Scottish Enterprise, a government department nominally existing to assist business. Whenever the BBC quango produce a news item about a "report" from a charity 10:1 it is a fakecharity.

The fact that the mainstream media simply will not report any of this does not reassure me.
Despairing Nazi's attempt to justify bullying by saying smokers cost the country money is disingenuous. By any objective terms the fact that smokers die earlier saves money. In any case if saving either lives or money were anything more than an excuse the nanny statists would be supporting many other things whych would do so more effectively, though are not so politically correct.

Richard Gadsden said...

As long as the same applies to any company that receives money from the government, that's fine.

Of course, that would kill the lobbying profession stone dead - practically every major company either receives subsidies or sells services or goods to the Government.

Pogo said...

@Richard Gadsden Of course, that would kill the lobbying profession stone dead...

You say that like it would be a bad thing... :-)