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Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government are most certainly to be held to account for foolishly giving up for determination by qualified majority voting within the European Union an increasing range of domestic working practices which should properly be the responsibility of elected parliamentarians and the British legislature? Does my right hon. Friend recall that, when challenged on that point by John Humphrys on the BBC programme "On the Record" on 9 November 1997 as to what she would do if the European Commission proceeded with plans for national works councils, the President of the Board of Trade feebly responded, "Well, er, we shall see how things go"? It is not encouraging, is it?

Mr. Redwood: Indeed it is not. The President of the Board of Trade has suddenly discovered two things: first, the proposal is not popular, and, secondly, she may not be able to block it because it may be wanted on the continent. They never explained that to her at No. 10 when they were setting out the joys of the social chapter.

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The Wall Street Journal Europe summed it up rather well, in respect of just such a proposal and just such difficulties, when it stated:


The Government are busily disguising the true cost of their social security and welfare-to-work programmes, embarrassed as they are about the fact that their spending is soaring well above our totals in the interest of paying for what they always used to call economic failure. In the place of common sense to control wage inflation, Labour has decided to give powers to shop stewards and to Brussels, making it more difficult to preserve good labour relations and inflation-free wage increases.

Mr. Sheerman: Just to be helpful to the right hon. Gentleman, if things are so bad--[Interruption.]

Mr. Redwood: I was about to give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I wonder whether I should do so now, in view of his impatience.

Mr. Sheerman: Before anyone panics at the right hon. Gentleman's tale of decline--if a few people somewhere are still able to listen to the proceedings of the House of Commons--may I refer hon. Members to Mr. Adair Turner's foreword to the July-August edition of CBI News? Mr. Turner represents a large section of British business and is very warm about the Labour Government; he is not ringing any alarm bells. He says:


If even Mr. Adair Turner is not worried about what we are doing, why is the right hon. Gentleman so full of doom and gloom?

Mr. Redwood: The Confederation of British Industry is very worried about the social chapter, as it believes that further damaging policies could emerge about which we could do nothing. The quotation that the hon. Gentleman read said that the only good thing about the Government was that they had not wrecked all the 1980s legislation. Surely the answer is to retain the 1980s legislation and to do something else more profitable for British enterprise and jobs.

Labour is creating an economy fit for lobbyists to thrive in. The refusal of the Department of Trade and Industry to spell out an energy policy has encouraged some to try to write that policy by hiring lobbyists. The uncertainty of the Department of Health about tobacco advertising made the Government prone to changing their mind when the right pressure was applied. As manufacturers suffer, lobbyists thrive.

Does the President of the Board of Trade think that that is a healthy state of affairs? Does modernising the economy mean closing down steelworks and textile mills, so that the only growth is in the behind-closed-doors influence business for former Labour advisers, who are now dining out in style? Are we to rest content with a crony economy in which even the Audit Commission needs a lobby firm to do its research? What has happened to all those old-fashioned values that the Chancellor and

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the President of the Board of Trade espoused in opposition, to sustain an industrial economy in which firms went from strength to strength by making things and selling them abroad?

Mr. Campbell-Savours: Hear, hear.

Mr. Redwood: I am delighted that at least oneold Labour Member remembers those promises. Unfortunately, as he knows, Labour Front Benchers are not delivering on those beliefs; they are failing to live up to those genuine sentiments that some Labour Members hold.

Today, I ask the President of the Board of Trade to promise a new set of rules to govern lobby companies. Will she reassure us that we shall always be able to know who the directors are, who the principal shareholders are, how much the directors are paid and how much income and expenditure the business enjoys? That is not asking too much, as I am sure Labour Members will agree. Surely the public should be able to know such simple things about a business that sets out to lobby the British Government and to influence public policy.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire): Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Association of Public Policy Consultants--the body that looks after lobbying companies--is strongly in favour of precisely the registration that he describes?

Mr. Redwood: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. What he says makes it much easier for the President of the Board of Trade to throw the weight of her office behind such proposals.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way on that point?

Mr. Redwood: May I give way at the minute of my choosing? I want to develop the argument a little.

Members of Parliament are paid to lobby the Government in the interests of their constituents. Rightly, we are expected to declare our sources of income and any directorships that we may hold. I decided to discover what I could find out about two of the lobby companies that have recently been much in the news.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: What has that got to do with the motion?

Mr. Redwood: It has a lot to do with the motion. I am arguing that there are two economies. It seems that the only way in which the manufacturing companies, which are in serious distress, can get their message to the Government is by spending even more money on hiring lobbyists to make their case for them, as the Government are bypassing Parliament and not listening to the many representations that we are making. I wanted to know who owned GPC Market Access. I was told--

Madam Speaker: Order. In the past five or 10 minutes, the right hon. Gentleman seems to have strayed a long

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way from the motion to which he should be speaking. I urge him and other hon. Members to speak to the motion and the amendment.

Mr. Redwood: I will, of course, speak to the motion, Madam Speaker, but part of our case is that, to have more successful Government policies for the industrial economy, we need to change our arrangements for lobbying, and, with your consent, I would like to develop that a little further.

I asked who owned GPC Market Access Group Ltd., and I discovered that it is owned by Countrywide Porter Novelli Ltd.--

Mr. Campbell-Savours: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have examined the motion and the amendment carefully, and I cannot see how what the right hon. Gentleman is saying relates to them. Could you clarify the matter, because it seems to me that he is totally out of order?

Madam Speaker: I have already made my views known to the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that I have a sense of humour, and I enjoy a little bit of knockabout as much as anybody else in the House, but I think that he should now deal with manufacturing and industrial relations.

Mr. Redwood: As I was saying, Madam Speaker, I believe that we need to know more about how the lobby groups work to see whether they are the right way for manufacturing industry to make its case. I discovered that Diversified Agency Services Ltd. and GPC International Holdings of Ottawa--

Mr. Campbell-Savours: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman is simply ignoring what you are saying.

Madam Speaker: The right hon. Gentleman will not defy me for much longer. I will give him two more minutes to return to manufacturing and speak to the motion.

Mr. Redwood: I am grateful, Madam Speaker.

I want the House to know that a company such as LLM is 40 per cent. owned by Robert Stevens Holdings, which in turn is owned by trustees in Jersey. Bedell and Cristin Trustees is owned by Premier Circle Ltd. and Second Circle Ltd., which is owned by Premier Circle Ltd. and Third Circle Ltd., which is owned by Premier Circle Ltd. and Second Circle Ltd.

Why does a lobbying company, set up by former Labour advisers to pursue the interests of, say, manufacturing industry, have such a complicated shareholding structure? What is the role of the Jersey trusts? Why are there three Circle companies, and why do any reasonable inquiries about them go round in circles? Why is one of the companies called Premier Circle? Could there be some mistake over the exacting meaning of Premier in this context?

What do the Government think about the use of Jersey trusts and companies to control shares in other companies owned by former Labour advisers? Did not those same advisers help the Chancellor of the Exchequer when,

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as an Opposition spokesman, he made speeches condemning the use of offshore vehicles? Do the Government believe--


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