Public Affairs: Minister urges EADS to cut back lobbying

A Government minister has urged the European aerospace company EADS to scale back its lobbying activities, putting the firm's retained public affairs agency Good Relations on alert.

Communities and Local Government minister Bob Neill was responding to a question about EADS' activities, tabled in the House of Commons last week by Conservative MP Nick de Bois.

In a written response, Neill noted: 'EADS employs a number of in-house lobbyists. We are also aware that Good Relations of the Bell Pottinger Group is undertaking lobbying on behalf of EADS.'

He criticised the aerospace firm's lobbying around the late-running £400m FiRecontrol project. He called on the firm to complete the project, 'rather than spending time and money on lobbying'.

Neill's comments will set alarm bells ringing at Good Relations, whose lucrative lobbying account with EADS spans the business divisions operating in the UK - including Airbus, Astrium, Eurocopter, Defence & Security and Test & Services. Good Relations fought off six rival agencies to land the wide-ranging public affairs retainer last year (PRWeek, 22 April 2009).

EADS is the main contractor for the troubled FiRecontrol project to replace 46 Fire Brigade control rooms with nine regional centres. Neill said that rather than focusing on the project, the firm had been lobbying him with 'speculative ideas' that were not in the original agreement.

Earlier this year, the communities and local government select committee warned the programme was in danger of missing its deadlines.

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