Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, has written to the Cabinet Secretary to ask him to initiate an investigation into claims from lobbyists “boasting” of their “access to the heart of the Government”.
The full text of the letter is below.
You will be aware that the media are covering a story reported in The Independent on Tuesday 6 December of lobbyists “boasting” of their “access to the heart of the Government”.
I was struck by the Independent’s reports that Bell Pottinger “claimed to have used its influence on behalf of the engineering firm Dyson to ask Mr Cameron to complain about copyright infringement to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a state visit in June 2011.” The newspaper quotes Tim Collins, of Bell Pottinger saying “He [Cameron] was doing it because we asked him to do it”.
Can you please initiate an investigation in order to determine whether you can give a specific response to the following three matters:
a) Did a member of the Prime Minister’s staff or travelling party have contact with Bell Pottinger on behalf of a third party client at that time? If so, what was the nature of this contact?
b) Was the Prime Minister asked by any member of his staff to enquire about Bell Pottinger’s client with the Chinese?
c) The Independent newspaper reports “Downing Street sources” saying that “the Dyson company’s concerns had been raised with the Chinese Premier”. Given the need for clarity around this issue - can you now confirm the exact nature of these discussions?
Last night a Downing St spokesperson indicated that there was no connection between the Prime Minister’s conversation with the Chinese and the activities of commercial lobbyists. This comment was made within moments of the story appearing in the media. Can you tell me what investigation was made within Downing Street as to the veracity of these claims prior to your spokesperson’s comments?
On the wider issue of lobbying, I note that the Minister gave a firm promise to the House of Commons that there would be a consultation document on the regulation of the lobbying industry which would be published in November. Today a Downing St spokesperson has told the media that the document will once again be delayed.
On 8 February 2010, the Prime Minister said that lobbying was “the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.” The Coalition Agreement promised action to “regulate lobbying through introducing a statutory register of lobbyists and ensuring greater transparency.”
Can you explain what the reasons are for the delay in this action and why no one has had the courtesy to inform the House of Commons as to the delay and its rationale?
Jon Trickett MP
Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office