I guess many of you feel fine about both taking advantage of such offers and properly representing your own side; I've been told many times that such things are just part of the mutual perks of business, just oiling the relationship. For others working in the private sector this may be true - I can only say I can't work with it.
When of course those gifts, inducements and rewards are made to planners, government officials, elected ministers and those charged with stewardship of the public purse, I'm sure my view should prevail; there should be a zero tolerance of such things. This is not now the case. All that's required is that the recipient of such largesse declare it on a public register. Simon Jenkins in the Guardian exposes the threat to national probity of such corruption;
" ... the hospitality showered on (Westminster Council's Planning) committee’s chairman for 16 years, the amiable Robert Davis, was breathtaking. Five-hundred freebies, including 10 foreign trips, in just three years. At least 150 of these were from a who’s who list of property industry figures. Even Harvey Weinstein is on the list. Entertaining Davis was clearly a Westminster cottage industry. He can hardly have had time to down one glass of champagne before raising another.Yep for the dilettante Eton-boy Cameron his chums always came first and controlling lobbying went the same way as Localism and all the rest of his early lies. If Blair is the father of fake news and unjust war, Cameron is the father of nepotism, cronyism and corruption. An honour for his hairdresser was a final finger thrust in the air at the rest of us.
The NHS is awash in inducements to doctors to prescribe branded medicines. Arms company boards are stuffed with generals. The banks that fund private finance initiatives keep the Whitehall doors revolving. Declarations of interest by members of the House of Lords read like a lobbyists’ congregation. It clearly pays companies to lobby. The irony is that it was David Cameron who made great play of curbing this in his Lobbying Act. It was, he said, “the next big scandal waiting to happen”. Yet the only scandal was how the act was watered down, and how Cameron’s transparency register for lobbyists was lobbied to oblivion."
Lobbying carries the stench of filth into the heart of our democratic processes, feeding on the avarice, rapacity and vanity of weak and credulous people in public office. It leaves both the giver and taker beshitten. It must be ended.