An MP has called for an investigation into the "improper funding relationship" between Britain's Department for Health (DH) and an anti-smoking lobby group. Philip Davies MP made the demand after revelations that DH granted money to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), which the group subsequently used to lobby for tobacco control measures under consideration by the department.Now, we've known for a while that ASH receive grant cash from the government - I've mentioned it here from time to time - but what Breitbart bring newly to the table is a grant request where ASH admit that they will use that money to lobby the government.
Or, as our Phil puts it.
Philip Davies MP, said: "It is perfectly clear from the bid documents from ASH for Government funding that some of this money is used by ASH for campaigning activity to lobby the Government to implement ASH's demands.
"For the Government to in effect spend money to lobby itself is ridiculous and unjustifiable in equal measure. This improper funding relationship should stop and the Government should investigate this and any other similar arrangements to ensure taxpayers' money is not abused in this way".Quite. What's more, in light of this new information, it is difficult to see how this fits in with ASH laughably calling itself a charity, rather than a political lobbying organisation.
ASH considers plain packaging to be a top policy priority, and has been supportive of standardised packaging laws introduced in Australia and New Zealand.
They do indeed, and this is just the latest in a long list of their recent politically-motivated 'top policy priorities', something which Charity Commission guidance says is not acceptable (emphasis mine).
"A charity cannot exist for a political purpose, which is any purpose directed at furthering the interests of any political party, or securing or opposing a change in the law, policy or decisions either in this country or abroad."
Their previous political activity could hardly be more blatant. In 2006, they were part of the Smokefree Coalition which lobbied for a change in law to bring in the smoking ban. Debs Arnott and Martin Dockrell even boasted - after bullying Blair's government into changing their minds - at how good they were at this political lobbying lark in this document.
Following that, ASH also lobbied government for the ban on tobacco displays, a ban on vending machines, massively increased taxation, the medical licensing by MHRA of e-cigs, and they are now nearing the end of their extensive, mendacious and central role in the grubby and corrupt campaign to bring in plain packaging.
Deborah Arnott will then trundle off to Moscow in the autumn to attend the unelected WHO's COP6 to talk about how governments all over the world can be browbeaten into changing their "laws, policies and decisions" too.
In fact, it's difficult to find anything at all that ASH do which isn't political lobbying.
So well done to our Phil for raising the issue. The only problem being that ASH's abuses are so wide-ranging it's hard to know who to write to and complain about it. The Charity Commission? The National Audit Office? The Department of Health? Eric Pickles?
Where to start?