Exclusive: Activists and MPs take on City’s influence on Parliament

The Square Mile enjoys 'unfettered and unmonitored' access to senior politicians and civil servants, campaigners claim

Deputy Political Editor

The City of London’s lobbying activities should be investigated by Parliament’s anti-sleaze watchdog, a coalition of  MPs, academics and celebrities urged tonight.

The Square Mile enjoys “unfettered and unmonitored” access to senior politicians and civil servants through the historic privileges of the City of London Corporation, the campaigners claim.

In a letter to Lord Bew, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, seen by The Independent, they call for an inquiry into the relations between the City and political leaders, arguing the lack of scrutiny risks undermining confidence in government.

One of the signatories, Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, said the time had come to “reveal the revolving doors between government and the City”. Their intervention coincides with a meeting in London today organised by major charities to protest about levels of corporate tax avoidance.

The campaigners are urging an inquiry into the role of the City Remembrancer, a post dating back to 1571. The incumbent, Paul Double, is entitled to sit in the House of Commons chamber and heads an office with an annual budget of more than £5m.

His remit is to act as the “formal channel of communication” with Parliament, although it has not disclosed how many meetings Mr Double holds with politicians. There is no suggestion that Mr Double has behaved improperly

The letter’s signatories say they are concerned the Lobbying Bill, currently going through Parliament, “will not include any measures to monitor or make publicly transparent the constant lobbying activities of the office of the Remembrancer and his staff”.

Lord Bew is also being asked to examine meetings between representatives of City UK, a lobbying organisation closely linked to the City of London Corporation.

The letter’s signatories say that City UK, which it accuses of promoting the “tax avoidance industry”, holds “extremely high levels” of meetings with ministers and civil servants. The signatories claim “a problematic arrangement … has built up within our democratic institutions”.

Other signatories include the actor Dominic West, the playwright David Edgar, three Labour MPs, the Green MP Caroline Lucas, academics, charities and community groups. Copies have also gone to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.

The letter was prompted by a documentary film, The UK Gold, into the alleged links between the City and tax avoidance schemes. Showings of the film are planned today in Westminster and the City.

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: “As an organisation providing a range of services for the nation, including green spaces, culture, supporting charities as well as promoting the UK’s financial and professional sector, we are affected by a number of legislative areas.

“The Remembrancer’s office communicates on behalf of the City to Parliament on these matters but does not have any special entitlement to influence legislation or meet with politicians.” No one could be contacted from City UK.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine