Still on the subject of ASH ...
A written question to the Secretary of State for Health from Conservative MP David Nuttall has revealed the staggering information that the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health (run by ASH) has written almost 600 letters to ministers over five years, and may have written many more letters to government officials.
Here is David's question and the minister's answer:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many items of correspondence his Department has received from (a) the Chair and (b) other members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health in each of the last five years.
Jane Ellison [Secretary of State for Health]:
The Department would incur a disproportionate cost in calculating how many items of correspondence have been received from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health (APPG) in each of the last five years.
592 letters from the APPG have been recorded as received by the Department’s Ministers over that period. The Group may also have written to officials direct but this information is not collected centrally.
Frankly, that borders on harassment!
Imagine the time, effort and cost of replying to all those letters.
In the meantime let's not forget that ASH receives £200,000 from government (ie the taxpayer) every year.
More than enough to pay for the cost of drafting those letters and the postage.
Update: Here's a further written question and the minister's answer:
Andrew Rosindell [Conservative MP]
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2015 to Question 16779, if he will assess the extent to which grants made by his Department to Action on Smoking and Health were used for activities designed to influence his Department, other departments or Parliament.
The conditions applicable to grants awarded to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) are set out in the grant award letters. The Department has made clear that none of this funding is to be used for lobbying purposes.
ASH’s compliance with the conditions of the grant is assessed at the grant monitoring meetings held between the Deputy Director of tobacco control and representatives from ASH as well as in the final full year grant monitoring and governance reports.
So that's all right, then.
Actually, no, it stinks. When will ministers put a stop to this abuse of ASH's charitable status and the funding they receive from government?