Public Affairs: ... but Communities Secretary bites back

'My decision to clamp down on quangos and town halls wasting taxpayers' cash on lobbying central government has left pockets of the public affairs industry up in arms.

'Let me be clear - I have no issue with the private sector using lobbyists. I do have an issue with the utterly wasteful and crazy practice of Government lobbying Government.

'I am sure thousands of public affairs practitioners would be outraged to learn that their hard-earned cash is spent in such a way when a local authority could simply pick up the phone and arrange a meeting. Such a dysfunctional practice does a disservice to the lobbying industry.

'Public affairs professionals pride themselves on building trust around brands and providing value for money. They will appreciate that trust in politics is at an all-time low. Labour's era of spin and profligacy has had a corrosive effect on politics. We need to rebuild that trust by cutting out the culture of waste and ushering in a new era of transparency. State-funded lobbying sidesteps transparency laws and distorts public decision making, creating a statist bias for more regulation, more spending and more taxes.

'As a Government we recognise the importance of engaging with a range of interest groups. We recognise we don't have all the answers. Labour's big mistake was it stopped listening to the concerns of the public and retreated into the Downing Street bunker. If we are to deliver effective and coherent policies we must maintain an open dialogue with interest groups - however, this shouldn't be done at the taxpayers' expense.'

Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary.

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