Tuesday 14 August 2012

How To Rig A Consultation By Excluding Relevant Government Departments

Back in May, I highlighted a couple of cynical ways that the consultation on plain packaging had been rigged to reach a pre-ordained result.

Firstly, the Department of Health ensured that the people who would be tasked with assessing the impact of any proposed legislation will solely be those with a particular interest in ensuring that it goes through without hindrance.

The second addressed the curious decision by the DoH to commission supporting evidence for the consultation which was written by the very same people campaigning for plain packaging, complete with references to their own 'studies'.

Both were in contravention of established rules laid down to ensure democratic transparency and open government.

The thinking behind these two slimy departures from process is now made crystal clear on reading the plain packs consultation response from the National Federation of Retail Newsagents [pdf].
While the lead Department is listed as Health under the Impact Assessment, there are none listed as ‘other’ Departments being consulted on this policy. This is a huge concern for us as the concessions made for small shops within the Tobacco Display Ban legislation (specifically the 3 year delay for small shops and the 10-fold increase in permissible display) only came about through rigorous debate with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Somewhere, a penny drops.

You see, the Department of Health were mighty pissed off in 2009 that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) had the temerity to raise concerns about the damage the display ban would have on retail shops. They were forced to water down the proposals as a result, and that just won't do.

So, this time, they have excluded the DBIS entirely to ensure that no-one can raise a silly objection like, you know, 58,000 small businesses - which are overwhelmingly against the idea for good reason - being shafted on the whim of the lucratively tax-funded tobacco control industry.

As far as these hideous people are concerned, every newsagent, corner shop, convenience store and kiosk in the country can go to the wall as long as a tiny few tobacco controllers can add another line on their CV and keep the tax receipts coming.

They not only want to rig the evidence for the consultation, they also wish to shut out a hugely relevant fellow government department for fear that it might raise valid concerns.

Thanks to the level of responses against plain packaging, this approach - well, let's call a spade a spade here, it's civil service corruption - may be exposed, and the methods employed by the pro-stupid lobby and their Whitehall cockroach chums can feel the uncomfortable warmth of a spotlight on their perversion of democratic process.

This is why if this plain packs consultation is a sham - as many have concluded - and it turns out that the legislation is tabled regardless of the overwhelming tide of objection, it's by far the end of the matter.

Instead, it will finally prove beyond any vague hint of doubt that government is broken; consultations officially not worth the cyber-bytes they are written on; and the civil service - in every single area - fit only for mass sackings and re-briefing to focus arrogant minds.

And with the newly-protected Freedom of Information Act at our disposal, that's when the fun will really start.


Bucko TheMoose said...

Believe it or not that FOI request did no good:

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Ha! Yes it did. It made it crystal clear that at least one of his electorate has outdone him and shown him up to be a lying twat ... hence the one-line approach to a mandatory response.

Quality! :)

Bucko TheMoose said...

Heh! :-)

Mag01 said...




truckerlyn said...

Dick, is it worth all of us sending your post above to our MP's? I suggest this, because although most of them will probably forward it to the DoH and then forward their response, it does, I believe, open their eyes just a little bit. If we did this more and more frequently, some may get pi**ed off, but others will, perhaps, start to take note.
What can we lose? Not even postage, as all MP's have an email address.

JonathanBagley said...

Completely O/T but you'll love this, Dick.

Barbara said...

Forgive me for being a bit thick here but since the tobacco
stands in the shops will be covered by big plain white doors why do you need to
have the cigs in plain packs behind them ?