MPs' motives for attacking mobile phones scrutinised

From Karen Barratt

I have just been sent a article (ref above) which accuses the AP Mobile Group of being infiltrated by lobbyists representing mobile phone companies' competitors. This according to the writer Sam Coates explains why among other things the AP Mobile have called on the Govt to require full planning permission for all masts, called for legislation to prevent mobile phone ops introducing services to attract children etc.

I haven't got time to precis the whole thing but I suggest eveyone reads it. It is the latest example of the telecoms propaganda. They must be more worried about the PMB than we imagined.


The Times

February 21, 2006

By Sam Coates

THE parliamentary watchdog is investigating a supposedly independent group of MPs who have repeatedly attacked mobile phone operators while receiving support from lobbyists working for competitors, The Times has learnt.

The All-Party Group on Mobile Communications, which launched its latest assault on the mobile industry at the weekend, is given administrative support by Political Intelligence, an international company of lobbyists.

Neither the parliamentary register nor the group’s own website reveals the lobbyists’ ultimate clients — including internet service providers whose telephony services compete head to head with the mobile industry.

This is an apparent breach of parliamentary rules which state: “Where a public relations agency provides the assistance, the ultimate client should be named.”

Sir Philip Mawer, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, has written to the group to demand why the clients are not named.

The move comes after The Times revealed last month how lobbyists have infiltrated the work of supposedly independent groups of MPs.

Sir Philip launched an investigation and is expected to report to Parliament in May.

When challenged by The Times, the head of Political Intelligence refused to reveal the name of their clients, citing commercial confidentiality.

The voluntary code for the lobbyist industry, which Political Intelligence has declined to sign up to, insists on such transparency.

However, Derek Wyatt, MP, the vice-chairman of the group, told The Times that the lobbyists’ clients included the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association and the European Internet Services Providers Association.

Both associations, which together represent thousands of companies, are competitors to the mobile phone industry because they stand to benefit from the rise of internet telephony, such as Skype.

The profits for communications companies depend heavily on the regulatory framework set by governments and the European Union, and can be influenced by all party groups.

Since the all-party mobile group was set up in 2001, it has:

# begun an investigation into mobile companies for overcharging consumers for downloading data abroad;

# called on the Government to require full planning permission for mobile phone masts;

# called for legislation to prevent two mobile phone operators from introducing services designed to attract children.

Mr Wyatt said that Political Intelligence had provided “expensive” clerking services and had found them sponsors for events in the past. But he added that there was no question that they had influenced the inquiries or findings of the group.

“If they [the lobbyist] tried to influence things they would be straight out the door. They don’t work like that. I have never had a conversation with them about that sort of thing.”

Asked why Political Intelligence did clerk for the group, he suggested that it was a goodwill gesture.

Nicholas Lansman, the managing director of Political Intelligence, refused to discuss the company’s clients.

“I have responded to Sir Philip. I am not prepared to discuss our clients because that is confidential. We have complied with all the rules.”

Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.

//www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,17129-2050085,00.html

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