The revolving door: how big business has colonised UK politics
The increasing number of ministers and senior civil servants recruited from the private sector to government ensures that policy favours big business
Our new report highlights the way business ideas have become entrenched in the UK political process.
The report warns against the ‘corporate colonisation’ of Government, citing a number of different ways through which figures from business have entered into Government, including:
- Business leaders appointed to Ministerial office via the House of Lords, such as former HSBC CEO Lord Green and former Goldman Sachs banker and Chief Executive of the London Olympics Organising Committee, Lord Deighton
- Private sector appointments to the civil service, with 30% of current senior civil servants recruited in this way
- The extensive use of private sector consultants at a cost of around £800m according to the Public Accounts Committee
- Non-executive ‘departmental boards’ of Government departments, chaired by leading industry figures, such as Lord Browne, former CEO of BP and Chair of the Cabinet Office, or Sam Laidlaw, outgoing CEO of Centrica (parent company of British Gas) and Chair of the Department for Transport.
The report also highlights the 1,000 business appointments taken up by outgoing Ministers and civil servants between 2000 and 2014 and their potential to use their knowledge of Government to exert undue influence on behalf of their new employers.
High Pay Centre director, Deborah Hargreaves said: It is useful for politicians and Government officials to be able to draw on experience of working in the private sector. At the same time, a balance has to be struck. Private companies exist to make money, first and foremost. They have different values to the public service ethic we expect of Ministers and civil servants.
The interests of big business and the interests of society are already too easily confused in public debate. They are not synonymous, but a Government dominated by former business leaders risks governing as if they are.
It is only natural that those with long professional careers working to maximise the profits of major corporations will favour policies that help big business when in Government, even at the expense of employee welfare or the environment, for example.
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