Don’t let secretive think tanks decide our trade policy

Liz Truss has appointed members of secretive right wing think tanks to advise on trade policy.

The Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs have been given places on the Trade departments' Strategic Trade Advisory Group. These think tanks have consistently pushed trade policies clearly at odds with public opinion. And they have never revealed who funds them.  

Add your name to our letter asking:

  •  Whether any proper checks were carried out
  • To require both think tanks to reveal who funds them, or to remove them as advisors.

Show you won’t stand for nameless private interests deciding major government policy, by adding your name.

Dear Secretary of State

As you will know the DIT have just appointed representatives of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) to the Department’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group, which was convened for the first time on Friday 16th October.

Any due diligence conducted on these think tanks prior to appointing their representatives will have identified that the IEA and ASI were given the worst possible rating by the ‘who funds you’ campaign for transparency ( Neither disclose their income or their funders.

Firstly, please can you confirm that due diligence was indeed carried out by the DIT on these organisations and that it did identify this concern.

Secondly, assuming that the DIT would not want to appoint representatives of think tanks with undisclosed funding sources, please can you explain what additional checks were carried out by the DIT on the IEA and ASI to establish that their sources of funding could not be linked to individuals who might be deemed in the future to be agents of a foreign principal.  You will be aware of the Government’s intention to introduce legislation which will require agents of foreign principals to disclose their political or other activities. Will you commit the DIT to publish the results of any additional checks conducted on the IEA and ASI?

Thirdly, if in fact the DIT appointed the IEA and ASI representatives with full knowledge of the lack of transparency over the funding of these think tanks, will you commit to requiring the IEA and ASI to make full disclosure of their funding sources within a 21 day period?  And if they fail to do so, to take them off the Advisory Group.

You will be aware that the Ministerial Code requires Ministers to uphold the very highest standards of propriety and to observe the seven principles of public life.  Your actions regarding the IEA and ASI would appear to engage six of these (selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness and leadership).

I am sure that you would agree that in the interests of transparency and accountability everyone is entitled to know who funds the experts the DIT consults.