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Labour MP asks: "What is a sock puppet?"

Labour MPs are still sniping at the Department for Communities and Local Governmet's 50 ways to save: Examples of sensible savings in local government.

Here is the following exchange from a Written Q&A recorded in Hansard:

Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to item 37 of his Department's document, 50 Ways to Save: Examples of Sensible Saving in Local Government, what he meant by (a) sock puppet and (b) fake charity; and which local authorities have entered into arrangements with such organisations. 

Brandon Lewis: As 50 Ways to Save explains, the footnote source referenced is the Institute of Economic Affairs' Discussion Paper, “Sock puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why”, June 2012, This can be found online, and it includes definitions of such arrangements and case studies.

50 Ways to Save also references the Taxpayers' Alliance research paper, “Taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning”, which includes further examples.

To assist the hon. Member in his visualisation of a sock puppet, I would observe that DCLG Ministers in the last Administration authorised £38,200 of taxpayers' money to bankroll lobbyists, LLM Communications; in turn, LLM then ran the supposedly independent 'Campaign for More and Better Homes' which campaigned in favour of the last Administration's Regional Spatial Strategies, and issued press releases praising the (then) Government's policies and attacking the Government's critics.


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