The demise and dumbing down of “public Health” is a scandal which is already starting to bite. The increase in children with dental decay and fillings and extractions is a tragedy. Future rises in Valvular Heart Disease are predicted.. The safest position is for both politicians and doctors to avoid lobby by drug reps. Applying fluoride (research) will have been funded by a company wanting to make a profit. Other provision (dental education and hygeinists as well as dentists) would give much better value to the country.
Companies such as Glaxo and AstraZeneca spend a lot of money on influencing politicians to believe that drugs help the health of populations. This is not true, and needs to be shown to be a lie.
The big dividends in population health are in housing, sanitation, good water, and a high standard of education and living. Drug companies provide none of these… Even vaccinations are questionable, and health screening programmes are questionable in their benefit.
Astra Zeneca spends £854000
Glaxo spends £ 1495000
and in Brussels Glaxo spends £1750000 in addition…!
Seven years ago David Cameron warned that lobbying would be the next political scandal. “It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long,” he said.
As it turned out, Mr Cameron was wrong — while there have been occasional grumbles about the influence of big money on British politics, it has remained the dog that has yet to bark.
The typical investor flicking through a FTSE 100 company’s annual report before the yearly shareholder meeting could be forgiven for thinking most blue-chip companies spend next to nothing on political and lobbying activities.
The more curious and less time-pressured shareholder may be surprised to discover, therefore, through a trawl of UK parliamentary registers and databases in Brussels, that Britain’s biggest public companies have spent at least £25 million within the past two years funding their lobbying operations in the EU and supporting all-party parliamentary groups in the UK.
The reason for the big gap between what is disclosed and what they spend is that FTSE 100 companies are required to make disclosures in their annual reports under the definitions of the Companies Act 2006, which governs political donations to parties, organisations and candidates and political expenditure.
The act stipulates that only direct spending on a political party or politician must be disclosed. Companies tend not to make political donations because they wish to be seen as apolitical.
Some simply make no reference to political donations or spending whatsoever. The latter, however, is a greyer area and potentially explains the discrepancy between the relatively detailed figures published by some FTSE 100 businesses and the one-line statements given by others.
Some companies, such as Astrazeneca and BT, believe that the act is already far-reaching and have opted to seek shareholder approval at AGMs to spend a certain amount of money on political spending to avoid breaching the law.
Even when companies have shareholder approval, however, spending on all-party parliamentary groups is not disclosed because the groups are exempt under the act. And the millions of euros spent on lobbying policymakers in Brussels also goes unreported to investors in company annual reports, even in the few cases where they make a point of specifying certain examples of spending.
The overall cost of Westminster lobbying is unknown and there is no register comparable with that in Brussels tracking what big companies spend on trying to steer UK legislation.
For example, BT’s most recent disclosure to the EU transparency register estimates the cost of its lobbying operation at about £900,000, with seven staff members, including three with access to the European parliament premises. However, the telecoms company could spend a similar amount on its UK public affairs office. BT said in its annual report that its activities were “important to enhancing the understanding of BT”.
The research raises questions as to whether the rules should be tightened so that shareholders and the public have a better idea about the scale of corporate lobbying.
Investors will hope and expect that the businesses they invest in are ensuring that their interests are represented to key politicians, but transparency advocates argue that it is vital that this is properly scrutinised.
Many will be unaware that the country’s most powerful companies are funding special interest groups of MPs, whose secretariats are sometimes public affairs companies, to promote agendas in parliament with the veil of parliamentary authenticity and legitimacy, or spend seven-figure sums on extensive lobbying operations in the heart of the EU.
In their responses to The Times, FTSE 100 companies have pointed to the positive benefits of their lobbying work: correcting ill-thought out legislation and ensuring that policymakers are kept on their toes and fully informed on all the knock-on effects. Companies also say that their activities are avowedly apolitical and do not favour one particular party over another.