IPPR : “Government must stop companies offering bribes”

Thursday, 13 Jul 2006, IPPR press release

“The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has called on the government to act against western companies offering bribes in the developing world… the British government must prevent the behaviour that reinforced bad governance.”

Sunday, 13 August 2006, Sunday Times

“ONE of Britain’s leading think tanks is offering firms privileged access to government policy makers as part of paid-for “sponsorship” programmes.

During an undercover investigation a senior executive with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) claimed the Blairite organisation was able to provide “the inside track on policy development” from key government figures in return for an annual fee of at least £10,000.

The policy makers he cited included Stewart Wood, an adviser to Gordon Brown, the chancellor, and Tony Grayling, an adviser to David Miliband, the environment secretary.

Matthew Taylor, one of Tony Blair’s strategists, would also be able to “talk about what the prime minister is going to be up to over the next year”.

Meeting a special adviser or civil servant at a private breakfast, dinner or seminar had obvious advantages, said the institute executive: “They are the ones involved more or less on a daily basis, people making policy. They then brief their minister; they’ll write the speech for the minister . . .

“The minister only spends a year or two in each department and then moves somewhere else. How can they be experts on the individual issues?” The institute’s links with the “top table” in government sheds light on the growing influence of think tanks in Whitehall. After a series of scandals involving lobbying firms under new Labour, companies are again finding they may be able to buy privileged access to the corridors of power with its help.

Kevin Bowman, the IPPR’s corporate relationship manager, was keen to impress a Sunday Times reporter posing as a consultant to a fictitious Japanese firm. The firm would be in good company alongside BP, Shell, Barclays and BT if it chose to become a “partner” sponsoring the IPPR, he said.

Bowman boasted that the think tank had recently been contacted by Ruth Kelly after she became cabinet minister for communities and local government. “(She) phoned us up a couple of weeks ago and said, ‘Can you organise a seminar for me because I want to get an idea of what’s happening in local government?’ Because she’s just got a new role . . . that was a good opportunity for her to hold discussions, you know, completely off the record.”




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