Friday, January 13, 2006

"Dirty Little Secret"

The Times carries a major expose on the rancid connections between commercial lobbyists and MPs:

'Organisations including the nuclear, pharmaceutical and drinks industries are funding and even writing policy reports in the name of influential all-party groups (APG) of MPs and peers. There are nearly 300 such groups in Parliament focusing on a huge range of subjects. The Times has established that two thirds of these are now being assisted by special interest groups.'

As a case study, they expose how consultants helped the pharmacy industry win a slice of the £20m morning-after Pill market:

"In 1999 came the creation of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, funded by four pharmacy associations. It immediately announced that its first inquiry would be into over-the-counter emergency drugs. In its report in February 2000 it concluded: “Many women seeking emergency contraception, especially younger women, feel uncomfortable at having to visit their GP [for a prescription] . . . Community pharmacists are able to offer expert advice on the use and appropriateness of emergency contraception without the need for an appointment.”
Within months the rules were changed."

The pharmacy associations operated through a lobbying company, that was responsible for drafting most of the MPs report (chairman Dr Howard Stoate- above with a fat man).

Of course, inside the Westminster bubble most people reckon they are well aware of such practices, and can "adjust" for them when evaluating what MPs and others might say. Indeed, during my recent disastrously liquid lunch with Mr Fawkes, I was frankly shocked by his worldly-wise acceptance of such rottenness. I urged him to remain pure and for the sake of his immortal soul to work tirelessly to expose those concerned.

From the outside looking in, I find this completely unacceptable. I'm with the Times:

'...the dirty little secret exposed today is the emergence of a culture of complacency, collusion and, possibly, worse. Politicians must clean house, and now.'

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