Wednesday 24 October 2012

Steve Baker MP Questions: Government Lobbying Government Encouraged By Department Of Health

You may remember my mentioning, earlier this month, Steve Baker MP having asked a few questions of government departments about their policy towards grants afforded to charities.

Having only seen three replies at the time, I guessed that there would be more to come, an assumption which was confirmed by Baker himself popping by to declare that "There will be further answers. We asked them all.". True to his word, they are all now available.

You may also remember that I was looking forward to how the Department of Health's response would compare with that of all the others. So let's boil them down, eh?
Culture Media and Sport: Use of DCMS grants is also limited to the specific purpose for which each is given, and DCMS does not provide grants specifically for advocacy, lobbying or campaigning. 
Home Department: Providing a grant to any organisation for the purpose of political advocacy, lobbying or campaigning would not be in line with Home Office policy, and is expressly prohibited by the terms and conditions of the standard Home Office grant agreement. 
Justice: Grant agreements contain standard terms and conditions which prohibit using the grant to fund certain activities. These include activities which may be party-political in intention, use or presentation or general lobbying on behalf of the recipient. 
Education: Our policy is that grant funding may not be used, and is not granted for, the purposes of funding advocacy, lobbying or campaigning. 
International Development: As a matter of principle funding from DFID cannot be awarded to initiatives that involve direct lobbying of the UK Government or of international organisations of which the UK Government is a member. 
Communities and Local Government: Ministers believe that it is inappropriate for taxpayers' money to subsidise such campaigning activity. 
Energy and Climate Change: The charities we engage take no position on policy issues and do not engage in advocacy, lobbying or campaigning.
All pretty clear so far. In fact, only Transport were a trifle vague by pointing to this pdf document and referring to framework terms and conditions which we can't possibly look into without FOI requests.

The Department of Health, however, were uniquely unapologetic.
The Department supports and recognises the role of charities and voluntary organisations to undertake advocacy, lobbying and campaigning where they are seeking to improve the health and well-being outcomes for the population of England.
It's kinda what we knew already, but I must admit that I truly believed they'd try to obscure it with flowery sentences. Government lobbying government, using your taxes, is not only acceptable to the DoH, but is positively encouraged.

It's why ASH, fake charities on foodie subjects, and - until very recently - Alcohol Concern - are shovelled millions of pounds of your cash to order you around.

They've made their minds up. Your hard-earned is extremely welcome in the state's coffers, but your personal choices can go hang.

Stinks, doesn't it?


BrianB said...

So, the DoH feel it is OK to eschew all of the accepted rules and standards of democratic governance, as long as it is itself able to create (usually arbitrary) rules for we mere plebs, that, should we break, will render us liable to draconian punishments.

Such a high-handed attitude, yet it obviously never occurs to them that they might often be wrong on their pet issues, and hence that they may be encouraging and even funding the lobbying for malpractice by their odious "voluntary organisations".

It stinks aright. I'm sure there is a word for their attitude ... oh, yes, that's it ... Totalitarian.

Tony Hand said...

All very well asking the questions Mr Baker. Now how about doing something about stopping it in the DoH?

Junican said...

There are two ways to interpret the word 'supports'. One is simply 'agrees with the aims of' and the other is 'gives money to'. Thus, I 'support' Bolton FC and I also 'support' my famiy.
The DoH propagandists (the ASH ET AL experts therein) are playing their usual trick of verbal manipulation. An obvious follow-up question would be to ask what the meaning of the word 'supports' is in the context of the question asked.

Jax said...

I hope that Mr Baker intends to challenge the DoH on this (does he, do we know?), especially now that he’s got some shining examples of how all the other departments don’t allow their grants to be used for lobbying purposes.

But on a wider issue, I still can’t see how any group which undertakes any form of political lobbying getting any government funding doesn’t still amount to that lobbying being funded by the taxpayer, albeit indirectly. If, for example, the NSPCC asked for a grant to refurbish a children’s home, and at the same time were lobbying for a change in the child cruelty legislation, then surely that would mean that the money they no longer had to find to pay for the children’s home could now be used for lobbying purposes instead?

And another thing which always springs to mind whenever I hear this subject mentioned is: why do they feel the need to get these charities to lobby in the first place? They’re the Government, for God’s sake – they can pretty much do as they please! Maybe there’s a minor advantage in PR terms in having these charities appearing to represent the views of the public, but they don’t seem to worry about having a PR-front group to give a pretence of public support for other unpopular proposals, do they? So why do they bother for health?

Parmenion59 said...

John Stuart Mill has been called "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century".[3] Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. In his essay 'On Liberty', he said:
“Neither one person, nor any number of persons, is warranted in saying to another human creature of ripe years that he shall not do with his life for his own benefit what he chooses to do with it. All errors he is likely to commit against advice and warning are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to do what they deem his good.”
These lifestyle laws promoted by the DoH are MORALLY REPUGNANT

Dick_Puddlecote said...


Dick_Puddlecote said...

Jax (and Tony Head), I presume Mr Baker asked the questions for a reason. Hopefully he'll see this follow up like he did the last one.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

The linked response suggests they are supportive of lobbying if it agrees with what government wants.

"Through its grant schemes, the Department does provide some funding to support charities and voluntary organisations in undertaking this type of activity where there are shared interests and priorities."

The DH gives Section 64 grants to charities, including ones we don't really like here. ;)

Lysistrata Eleftheria said...

So, ‘Health and Well-being’ is the trump meme that allows the
DoH to win every time, is it?

They get away with it because they are the holy priests of the
God of Health and Well-being, and their God rules?

They distort science, disregard democracy, piss on policy, corrupt
the meaning of charity (we used to call it ‘shroud-rattling’), lie and cheat
and lobby and grab as much power and money as they can. They corrupt national
and local government administration and academia and proper research and genuine compassionate health and social care
by paying handsomely for policy-based evidence.

Their definition of health and well-being is not my definition.
It’s not my physical or mental well-being they’re interested in, nor that of my
friends and family.

Loneliness and poverty and unemployment are still greater
indicators in the UK for lower longevity than any of their pet healthist aims. Our
community meeting places are ruined, old people are more desperately isolated,
very ill people are starved to death or die from dehydration, and they are still
stealing resources for their own benighted ends that could be spent far more
usefully elsewhere.

Well-being my arse.

I’m seething with anger.

ReefKnot said...

Government should not be giving any taxpayer's money to any of these 'sock puppets' or 'Fake Charities'. If their cause is really so worthy, they will be able to raise enough money by getting private donations and individual donations from members of the public, just like RNLI and Air Ambulance do - examples of real charities. It is an absolute disgrace that taxpayers money should go to lobbying and campaigning groups like ASH, Alcohol Concern and Stonewall who campaign to stop you smoking, stop you drinking and the promotion of homosexuality. Even more so when you consider there are hundreds of these organistaions, all leaching off the taxpayer, with many of them paying their 'CEOs' in excess of £60 k salaries - all at our expense. This is made worse by Government Depts trying to fob us off with statements such as those given above. Surely, if these Fake Charities receive funding from Government i.e the taxpayer, it gives them the financial flexibility to lobby and campaign with other money they receive, thus allowing them to cynically claim they comply with the Government donor's conditions. Any organisation who lobbies or campaigns should not get a single penny of taxpayers money - that should be reserved for real charities. The Government must think we are all stupid.