The MPs' Guide To Cricket, Beer, Jazz and Ski-ing

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The Independent Online
A NEWLY-PUBLISHED register of parliamentary and all-party groups reveals that while many receive no outside funding at all, others receive as much as pounds 40,000. Among them are:

Cricket Group: Holds regular meetings and dinners with figures from the cricketing world, helped by pounds 10,000 a year from Texaco, which also provides administrative support.

Beer Club All-Party Group: The group has more MPs than any other - 270 and 35 peers. It receives pounds 40,000 a year from the big brewers and pub companies, including Scottish and Newcastle, Guinness, Bass, Allied Domecq and Whitbread. The group is carrying out research on possible reforms to the licensing laws.

Jazz appreciation group: Secretarial support provided by the public affairs department of Vauxhall Motors. The group receives pounds 5,000 a year from the car company. Its aim is to promote the use and enjoyment of jazz.

Rugby League All-Party Group: Run from the office of David Hinchliffe, Labour MP for Wakefield, quite separately from the Rugby Union all-party group (Derek Wyatt, Labour MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey). Officers of the rugby league group are entitled to free ground passes supplied by the Rugby Football League.

All-Party Ski Group: Set up "to promote British-Swiss parliamentary understanding and to organise the annual meeting and ski race between British and Swiss parliamentarians". MPs on the annual ski week get ski passes and the services of local guides by the Swiss authorities, which also offer free rail travel. The group is run from the office of Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham.

British Mauritius All-Party Group. Set up "to promote good relations between parliamentarians of Britain and Mauritius and explore issues of mutual interest and concern". The group is run from the office of Nigel Jones, Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham.

The administrators of some groups are based in the offices of lobbying or public relations companies. Most of those companies are paid to run the groups on behalf of other commercial organisations. Among the groups supported or funded by lobbyists and public relations companies are:

Bar - Shandwick; Building Societies - CSM Parliamentary Consultants; Built Environment - Westminster Advisers; Energy Studies - CSM Parliamentary Consultants; Food and Health Forum - Central Lobby Consultants; Information Technology - Frank Richardson Associates; Minerals - Hill and Knowlton;

Motorcycle - Citigate Westminster; Racing and Bloodstock Industries - Bell Pottinger; Railways - Citigate Westminster; Road Transport Study - Frank Richardson Associates; Space - Frank Richardson Associates; Transport Forum - Westminster Advisers. Other groups with commercial or other outside support include: Aerospace - The Air League; Architecture and Planning - Royal Institute of British Architects; Cable and Satellite - Cable Communications Association; Chemical Industry - Chemical Industries Association; Environment - Environmental Industries Commission; European Secure Vehicle Alliance - The European Secure Vehicle Alliance; Glass - British Glass; Greyhound Racing - British Greyhound Racing Board; Insurance and Financial Services - Post magazine; Jazz Appreciation - Vauxhall Motors; Lighting - Lighting Industry Federation; Manufacturing Industry - Networking for Industry; Motoring - Royal Automobile Club; Paper Industry - Paper Federation of Great Britain; Plumbing - Institute of Plumbing; Renewable and Sustainable Energy - PRASEG-HEC-Europe; Retail Industry - British Retail Consortium.

FRAN ABRAMS

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