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« No plans ... "at present" | Main | Who's laughing now? »
Friday
Oct172008

Proper use of public funds?

On Tuesday Conservative MP Nicholas Soames submitted the following written question: "To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps he takes to audit funding provided to Action on Smoking and Health by his Department to determine what proportion is used to lobby his Department; (2) how many meetings (a) he, (b) his ministerial colleagues and (c ) his officials have had on the future of tobacco control with (i) charities, (ii) professional bodies, (iii) retail businesses and (iv) manufacturers in the last three years; which of the charities with which meetings have been held are funded by his Department; and in each case how much funding has been allocated to each charity."

This morning Soames received a written answer from health minister Dawn Primarolo:

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) received funding from the Department in the current financial year in accordance with the 'Section 64 General Scheme of Grants to voluntary and Community Organisations'.

ASH has received this grant specifically to carry out a defined project entitled "Capitalising on Smokefree: the way forward". None of this funding is to be used for lobbying purposes.
The Department has completed a public consultation on 31 May 2008 on the future of tobacco control. This consultation was carried out in accordance with the Cabinet office code of practice. A copy of the consultation document has already been placed in the Library.

Meetings have taken place at all levels of the Department, and at regional and local level. No central record has been kept of all the meetings held with the organisations listed and with other stakeholders. The consultation has received over 95,000 responses and these are being analysed. In due course a summary of the analysis of responses will be published on the Department's website.

A large number of charitable organisations will have been involved in responding to the consultation. Details of the funding of those organisations attending meetings or taking part in this consultation have not been collected in the form requested. There will continue to be meetings with interested stakeholders at all appropriate levels, as a future strategy is developed to tackle the death and disease caused by smoking.

I have to say I am amazed that the consultation attracted 95,000 responses. Rest assured, this was the result of a huge lobbying campaign by the anti-smoking lobby. If, as I suspect, this was part of the "Capitalising on Smokefree" project mentioned by Primarolo in her reply, it means that public funds have been used - quite cynically, in my view - to influence the outcome of a "public" consultation. If it is true, hats off to Nicholas Soames for exposing it. Watch this space.

Reader Comments (12)

Nicholas Soames may have exposed it Simon, but is he going to do anything about it and cause a stink like there should be? I very much doubt it.
I may be wrong, but it appears that there isn't an opposition when it comes to the taboo subject of Tobacco Control. We've all seen blatant lies banded around everywhere, but not one of the opposition parties have said a dicky-bird!
It's my opinion that the MPs from all the major political parties are extremely weak if they cave in to the extremist viewpoints of the anti-smokers and are afraid to challenge them.
I may be wrong on this occassion, we'll have to wait and see what Nicholas Soames does. I'll give him the benefit of doubt for now, but I'm not holding my breath for the truth to be exposed. It never is.

October 17, 2008 at 12:30 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I would still like to see how much is paid to ASH and others. Why aren't there any meetings with parties that believe to be wrong?

October 17, 2008 at 15:36 | Unregistered Commenterchas

ASH does not do debates as it is likely to disprove their myths, of course the fact that the EU forbids contact with anyone even remotely connected with opppsition to this travesty of a law helps immensely.

ASH (scotland) in an recent financial report admittted that 90% of their funding goes to "administration" costs.

October 17, 2008 at 21:55 | Unregistered Commentersoapy

Eligibility criteria?
The Section 64 General Scheme has the following eligibility criteria in addition to the legal
requirements on Page 7. Details of what we do not fund on page 9.
CHECKLIST
􀂾 Does your organisation work in England?
(Please note that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have similar
funding schemes.)

Can I assume that ASH Scotland and ASH wales do not recive funding from the NHS? Does ASH UK provide money to them?

October 18, 2008 at 10:15 | Unregistered Commenterchas

Please ignore previous comment and replace with:
Eligibility criteria?
The Section 64 General Scheme has the following eligibility criteria in addition to the legal
requirements on Page 7. Details of what we do not fund on page 9.
CHECKLIST
􀂾 Does your organisation work in England?
(Please note that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have similar
funding schemes.)
􀂉
􀂾 Is it carrying out activities of national significance?
(This means activities relating to health and social care in England, that
can be applied nationally and are not just for local communities. If your
organisation’s activities are local, you should contact your local social
services or Primary Care Trust (PCT) for possible funding.)
􀂉
􀂾 Is it a corporate body?
If not, does it have a formal constitution (set of rules) or governing
document which shows its objectives and management structure?
􀂉
􀂉
􀂾 If registration is needed - Is it registered with the Charity Commission?
(Your organisation must have been formally registered and the
Commission must have approved its objectives.)
See http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk for information about charity
registration
􀂉
􀂾 Does it have, or is it in the process of producing, an equal opportunities
policy relating to the services to be provided, employing staff and
involving volunteers?
􀂉
If you answered ‘Yes’ to the 5 questions above, your organisation is eligible to apply for a grant
under the S64 General Scheme. This does not mean that your organisation will automatically
receive a grant. The Department of Health considers every application on its merits.

October 18, 2008 at 13:18 | Unregistered Commenterchas

Why is Forest not applying for this grant?

October 18, 2008 at 15:31 | Unregistered CommenterMary smoker

Like everything else that is supposed to open to public consultation, those consulted were wither cherry picked or the relevant correct responses were!

Exactly the same thing goes at local government level and the likes of ASH are so obviously cosily in bed with national government, they obviously follow the same rules!

The whole damned country is corrupt, in my view, when it comes to politicians and those that cuddle up to them!

October 18, 2008 at 15:35 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

Primula said that no central record has been kept of all the meetings. Why, when they're receiving government funding, taxpayers money.

Soames should ask them this. He should also ask why they continue to receive funding from pharmaceutical companies and why ASH has shares in GKS, surely this is a conflict of interest.

No politican has the balls to take this on, they're not just weak, they're cowardly and too interested in protecting their own positions. I'd have thought that the supposed pillar of anti-corruption & finder of truth, Norman Baker, of the Lib-Dems would've been interested in this, shame it concerns smokers otherwise he'd have been at the forefront.

October 19, 2008 at 0:35 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Charities are supposed to be open and above board and yet I cannot see any of their accounts. If ASH were to lose their charity status, they would not be able to apply for these grants.

October 19, 2008 at 13:42 | Unregistered Commenterchas

Chas,

Here is a link to their accounts

http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/ShowCharity/RegisterOfCharities/DocumentList.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=262067&SubsidiaryNumber=0&DocType=AccountList

October 19, 2008 at 14:58 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

All major party policitians are weak and cowardly, say many of you. That is why I have no intention of voting for any of them in the next election. They won't change anything unless they are warned very strongly on how a very large percentage of this country thinks on the issue of the smoking ban and all the periferals that go with it.

Hence my intention to make a protest vote. The more that do, even though it is highly unlikely that UKIP or other alternatives will win, the bigger their count, the smaller that of the major 3! The hope is that it just might shock enough of these self important policitians out of their complacency.

October 20, 2008 at 11:03 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

As we have ASH UK why do we need ASH Scotland and ASH wales? Isn't this duplication and a waste of taxpayers money?

October 20, 2008 at 11:12 | Unregistered Commenterchas

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