Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, has today written to David Cameron on the postponement of the introduction of standardised packaging of cigarettes and on the Conservatives’ advisor Lynton Crosby. Full text of the letter below:
Dear Prime Minister,
Today, your Government announced that it was postponing any introduction of standardised packaging of cigarettes – a policy your Government has previously supported, and of which the public health Minister, Anna Soubry, has said she has “been personally persuaded” (BBC Radio 4 Today, 19 April 2013).
Suspicions have been raised that the change in policy has been influenced by your election strategist, Lynton Crosby, who has reportedly worked as a lobbyist for clients in the tobacco industry. You have repeatedly been given the opportunity to allay these suspicions, and have consistently failed to do so. Instead, you have been evasive, answering questions which you were not asked or refusing to respond to questions altogether.
On 8 May my colleague Kevin Barron wrote to you asking a number of straightforward questions about your discussions of alcohol and tobacco policy with Lynton Crosby, and about how Lynton Crosby is paid for his services to the Conservative Party. I understand that he has received no reply.
On 9 June I wrote to you asking you to confirm that the clients of Lynton Crosby's company will have to be disclosed on any forthcoming statutory register of lobbyists, and to ensure that all of Lynton Crosby's commercial clients are publicly disclosed so that there can be no suspicion of any conflict of interests. I have received no reply.
At Prime Minister's Questions on 19 June, Kevin Barron asked you whether you had had any discussions about the standardised packaging of cigarettes or the minimum price of a unit of alcohol. You avoided the question, answering a different one entirely.
Mr Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) (Lab): I wrote to the Prime Minister on 8 May and I have not yet received a reply. May I ask him now whether he has had any discussions with Lynton Crosby about the standard packaging of cigarettes or the minimum price of a unit of alcohol—yes or no?
The Prime Minister: I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that Lynton Crosby has never lobbied me on anything.
Hansard, 19 June 2013, column 891
At Prime Minister's Questions on 26 June, John Cryer asked you the same question. Again, you avoided it.
John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab): Further to the question that the Prime Minister failed to answer last week, can he confirm that he has never had a conversation with Lynton Crosby about alcohol pricing or cigarettes? The question is not “Has he been lobbied?”, but “Has he had that conversation?”
The Prime Minister: As I said last week, I have never been lobbied by Lynton Crosby about anything.
Hansard, 26 June 2013, column 297
Your Ministerial colleagues have also refused to answer straightforward questions about Lynton Crosby. On 15 May, Lord Hill avoided a question from my colleague Baroness Hayter.
Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what declarations have been made by the Prime Minister’s adviser, Lynton Crosby, of any business links with the drinks industry either in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. [HL10]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford): Lynton Crosby is not employed by the Government.
Lords Hansard, 15 May 2013, column WA5
In addition, a number of MPs have raised questions during debates in the House of Commons about Lynton Crosby’s involvement in Government policymaking, and Ministers have consistently refused to answer.
Until you give clear and unambiguous answers to all of the straightforward questions that have been put to you, suspicion will remain that you have something to hide. If you have never discussed tobacco or alcohol policy with Lynton Crosby, and if he no longer has business links with the tobacco or alcohol industries, why won’t you just say so?
I hope, even against all experience, to hear from you soon.