Why are the Government letting nationalised banks spend taxpayers' money on lobbying?

January 12, 2012 1:12 PM

Yesterday the Independent reported that RBS and Lloyds are retaining the services of a number of high priced lobbying firms. Given that they are largely owned by the taxpayer, this is our money and spending it on lobbyists is a ridiculous waste.

How is it in our interests to fund banks fighting for their political interests?


The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is 83 per cent owned by taxpayers, paid six firms last year despite losing more than £750m in six months. It also employs its own team of internal corporate lobbyists to influence ministers.

Lloyds Banking Group, which is 41 per cent owned by the Government, retained two lobbying companies.

[...]

RBS's use of PR companies is far greater than its private banking competitors. HSBC and Barclays each employ two firms, while Santander retains three.

Tamasin Cabe from the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency called this "offensive" and Labour called it "outrageous". They're quite right. This isn't a normal company with shareholders who can sell if they think they are getting poor value, or who are - as a distinct economic interest - being represented, but one part of the public sector - the nationalised banks - lobbying another - the Government. The same thing does happen in other areas with councils and quangos hiring lobbyists but this is a particularly egregious example.

The Government's response is disappointing. They said it "seemed ridiculous" and that the "firms might try and lobby us to do things but that does not mean that we do them". But even if we trust that is the case, then that just means this is a waste of our money. I don't want to see taxpayers' cash spent on effective or ineffective lobbying for the nationalised banks.

Surely they can do better? If the Government, representing these banks' biggest shareholders, told them to stop hiring lobbyists would RBS and Lloyds really be able to say no?


This is yet another reminder that we need to get the bailout money back as soon as possible, so that taxpayers aren't on the hook for the banks' spending decisions.Yesterday the Independent reported that RBS and Lloyds are retaining the services of a number of high priced lobbying firms. Given that they are largely owned by the taxpayer, this is our money and spending it on lobbyists is a ridiculous waste.

How is it in our interests to fund banks fighting for their political interests?


The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is 83 per cent owned by taxpayers, paid six firms last year despite losing more than £750m in six months. It also employs its own team of internal corporate lobbyists to influence ministers.

Lloyds Banking Group, which is 41 per cent owned by the Government, retained two lobbying companies.

[...]

RBS's use of PR companies is far greater than its private banking competitors. HSBC and Barclays each employ two firms, while Santander retains three.

Tamasin Cabe from the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency called this "offensive" and Labour called it "outrageous". They're quite right. This isn't a normal company with shareholders who can sell if they think they are getting poor value, or who are - as a distinct economic interest - being represented, but one part of the public sector - the nationalised banks - lobbying another - the Government. The same thing does happen in other areas with councils and quangos hiring lobbyists but this is a particularly egregious example.

The Government's response is disappointing. They said it "seemed ridiculous" and that the "firms might try and lobby us to do things but that does not mean that we do them". But even if we trust that is the case, then that just means this is a waste of our money. I don't want to see taxpayers' cash spent on effective or ineffective lobbying for the nationalised banks.

Surely they can do better? If the Government, representing these banks' biggest shareholders, told them to stop hiring lobbyists would RBS and Lloyds really be able to say no?


This is yet another reminder that we need to get the bailout money back as soon as possible, so that taxpayers aren't on the hook for the banks' spending decisions.

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