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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cash for access

Apparently undaunted by the row still going on around loans for peerages, Labour are using their Conference to try and plug their £20 million overdraft by offering companies and special interest groups the opportunity "to engage first hand" with ministers and policy advisers who work in areas relevant to their business for £1,500 a head during the conference.

The Guardian also reports that the PR company Bell Pottinger Public Affairs is offering clients a package of dinners and meetings with ministers. BPPA, set up by Lord Bell, who was behind successive Conservative party election campaigns, is offering clients dinner with two cabinet members, including the lord chancellor, Lord Falconer, two ministers of state and three senior MPs.

Nobody is arguing that Labour are doing something that has not happened before but one does have to question the values that allow Government to be abused in this way for financial gain. Even if state funding of political parties does not come in then there needs to be a clampdown on the way that people can buy access to Ministers.
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