UK Politics

Conservative Party: Town hall watchdog hires lobbyists to save itself

News   •   Feb 01, 2010 10:51 GMT

Caroline Spelman, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has criticised the town hall watchdog for hiring lobbyists at taxpayers’ expense to try to change Conservative Party policy.

"This is a complete abuse of taxpayers’ money by a body which is supposed to be standing up for taxpayers’ interests", she said.

The Audit Commission has used public cash to try to press for more regulation on town halls, to persuade politicians that the Commission "spends public money wisely" after the Icelandic banks fiasco, and to save its pet projects.

This involved lobbying Parliamentary Candidates and the Shadow Cabinet, and is an abuse of taxpayers’ money and breach of Whitehall probity rules.

"We can no longer have confidence in the Audit Commission if it has become such a creature of the state that it bankrolls lobbyists to save its own skin and call for more red tape", Spelman said.

"The lobbying of Parliamentary Candidates by public bodies is utterly unacceptable and inappropriate – government agencies should stay out of party politics and the forthcoming general election."

She added that it was time to stop "the scandal of government hiring lobbyists to lobby government".

"Conservatives will ban it outright to protect the interests of taxpayers’ from more regulation, more laws and more wasted spending from Labour’s out of control quango state."