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Tuesday
Nov282017

Please, minister, we want some more

Is ASH getting jittery about its next handout from the public purse?

For the best part of a decade this taxpayer-funded lobby group has received over £1.5 million of our hard-earned cash.

That may be small beer compared to ASH Scotland which has swallowed upwards of £800,000 a year from the taxpayer during the same period, but it's nevertheless a substantial part of ASH's annual income.

The money has been awarded by the Department of Health with the express purpose of supporting the tobacco control plans of successive governments.

Technically ASH is not permitted to use the money to lobby government but given its record as a political pressure group that has consistently lobbied parliament to introduce a full range of anti-smoking policies, it beggars belief that ministers continue to allow the DH to fund ASH's work, however it may be dressed up.

What may concern ASH is the fact that grants are now subject to a bidding process. This means that ASH could (and hopefully will) face competition for future DH grants.

CEO Deborah Arnott is clearly aware of the threat, hence two questions that were tabled in the House of Lords yesterday by Lord Rennard, a former director and trustee of ASH who is currently vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health which is run by, er, ASH.

The first read:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide funding under section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 to support implementation of the Tobacco Control Plan for England published in July.

The second read:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding they provided under section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 to support implementation of the Tobacco Control Plan for England published in 2011; and to which organisations.

Interestingly, two related questions were also tabled yesterday by Lord Faulkner of Worcester. Like Rennard, Faulkner is another former ASH trustee and a current vice-chair of the APPG on Smoking and Health.

Faulkner's questions read:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any plans to support implementation of the Tobacco Control Plan for England will contain provisions for future year funding to cover the full length of the Plan from 2017 to 2022.

To ask Her Majesty's Government when the approval process for proposals for a grant for 2017–18 to support implementation of the Tobacco Control Plan under section 64 of the of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 will be completed.

Several things strike me about these ASH-inspired questions but the underlying message seems very clear:

One, where's the money?

Two, we've had handouts before and we expect to be on the list of organisations receiving further remuneration in future.

Three, we want a five-year commitment from government to deliver the dosh every year until 2022 with no further questions asked.

Four, if our proposal for a grant isn't approved soon it will seriously fuck up our budget for 2018.

We await the government’s replies with interest.

PS. One other point. Each year since 2008/09 ASH has received a grant to support the tobacco control plan.

The previous plan ended in 2015 and a new plan was only announced in July this year after persistent lobbying by the likes of ASH.

For two years therefore there was no tobacco control plan, a fact the tobacco control industry complained about bitterly and at length.

Why then did ASH receive a grant of £195,000 to cover a period (2016/17) when there was no plan in place?

What exactly did ASH use that money for and shouldn't the DH ask for it back?

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Reader Comments (8)

Lord Rennard??? Good grief! ASH depends on a sex pest to badger Govt for money. Oh how caring and PC they are.

I am sick of them scrounging money from me and other smokers who should not have to pay tax to fund ASH's persecution of smokers.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 16:24 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

In the interests of balance, Pat, it should be pointed out that following an article in the Observer on Sunday November 5, the paper published this correction:

‘Lord Rennard has asked us to point out that the Metropolitan police investigated allegations of sexual harassment made against him and concluded that there would be no charges due to insufficient evidence, and Alistair Webster QC, appointed by the Lib Dems, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to hold a disciplinary hearing.’

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 17:06 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Fair point made. I imported the winky face in a nudge, nudge way. Bad sarcasm.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 17:19 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I stand by my accusation against ash being mysogynistic though. After all, they do think women are so stupid that the sight of a pretty pink packet of fags will turn them into smokers and it is women they harrass more than men.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 17:22 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

ASH now has no function and should be defunded. Other than prohibition surely all their goals have been achieved.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 18:32 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

Interesting you mentioned Rennard because it was recently reported that he is banned from attending Young Liberal events, for some strange reason.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 22:15 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

“Other than prohibition surely all their goals have been achieved”

Aye, there’s the rub. Prohibition. The “restriction that dare not speak its name.” They can’t push for prohibition. They just can’t. It would spell instant death for all of their self-important little campaign groups. Who needs a lobby group to push for outside bans when smoking anywhere (including outside) is illegal anyway? Who needs a lobby group to push for home smoking bans when that, too, is illegal? Who’d need people like them to “stand up for non-smokers” when the whole machinery of the law is busy doing it instead? What would be the point of having all those happy-clappy little stop-smoking groups provided by the NHS when no-one’s signing up any more, because no-one wants to admit that they still smoke, for fear of getting into trouble?

With every petty little restriction that they succeed in getting through, another tiny reason for their existence disappears, and they know it. That’s why they never call for prohibition, when, if you believed everything they say about the evils of smoking, you’d think they of all people would have been pushing for it for years! They can’t, for example, keep banging on now about a workplace smoking ban, or a ban in public places, or a ban in pubs, or a ban in restaurants etc etc, because that’s now done. Even they have to shut up about it once a ban is in place, because there’s no further that anyone - not even Parliament - can go than that. And so it would be with tobacco prohibition. If made totally illegal, groups like ASH simply wouldn’t have a function any more. We’ve already seen lots of these little charities defunded and closed (Smoke Free South West, ASH New Zealand etc), because the State has taken over. Prohibition – where the State would take over ALL anti-smoking measures, is the last thing they want!

And above all, as I mentioned in a previous comment, if smoking was prohibited completely, how would they and their followers get their daily fix of self-righteous bullying if their chosen target group – previously such an easy one, too – at least “on paper,” disappeared overnight? My goodness! What would happen to their egos??!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 1:37 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Ha ha ha Misty ! You are quite right ! Poor old ASH - completely finished for ever !

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 16:42 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

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