Companies pay £1,800 a head to meet ministers


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Indy Politics

Companies have been paying up to £1,800 a head to meet ministers, senior government advisers and MPs at a series of networking events organised by a private company, it emerged last night.

The chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, Policing minister, Nick Herbert, and Climate Change minister, Lord Taylor, have all addressed the events, organised by a networking business called the Chemistry Club, and usually hosted at a Mayfair restaurant.

Senior MPs from backbench committees have also attended the events, as have senior civil servants and special advisers from the Treasury, Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Department of Energy and Climate Change and other key departments. Among public sector employees to have attended the evenings is Ben Moxham, David Cameron's special adviser for energy and the environment, who was at an event on climate change in November.

The club charges senior executives from energy companies, consultancies and technology businesses between £1,300 and £1,800 per person for each event, according to reports in The Guardian. The revelations will add to pressure for the Government to go further in introducing transparency rules surrounding lobbying.

Last night Jon Trickett MP, Labour's Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, said: "These revelations leave serious questions for David Cameron to answer if he is to avoid the suspicion that lobbyists believe they can buy influence with his government."