News / Good Food for Our Money Campaign

Fish campaigners pay Stephen Byers to lobby Hilary Benn

A campaign group has offered Stephen Byers £100 to lobby Hilary Benn MP to introduce new rules for school and hospital food to protect endangered fish.

A campaign group has offered Stephen Byers 100 to lobby Hilary Benn MP to introduce new rules for school and hospital food to protect endangered fish.

Vital issues such as banning endangered fish from school and hospital menus have not got the ministerial attention they deserve. We've tried for years by writing, sending ministers evidence, engaging in debates and even turning up at Parliament in a fish suit!  explained Alex Jackson, sustainable fish campaigner for the environmental charity Sustain. But the government still fails to take serious action to conserve fish for future generations to enjoy. So when we heard on Channel 4 that the former trade minister is a 'cab for hire', we decided to have a whip round.

Colleagues at the environmental charity clubbed together to raise 100, and sent a cheque today to Stephen Byers, along with a request to lobby the secretary of state for the environment Hilary Benn MP to ban endangered fish from the menus of public institutions. On the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, we heard Mr Byers say he would work for between 3,000 and 5,000 a day, said Alex Jackson. If the lower end of the scale is his charity rate, then we reckon we can afford about 15 minutes. That should be just enough time to remind Hilary Benn that he has the power to save fish from extinction.

Charities like ours don't have the money to pay professional lobbyists to buy influence over public policy, said Kath Dalmeny, policy director for Sustain. We rely on ministers to use their powerful positions to take responsible action on all our behalves, and sort out massive problems such as fish disappearing from our oceans. We don't want to resort to the dirty tricks of industry, but our 100 might be worth the effort. And if this turns into the 'Cash for Fish' affair, at least endangered fish will get the public attention they desperately need. 

Sustain runs the Good Food for Our Money campaign, which is calling for better public sector food served in institutions such as government departments, hospitals, schools and the army. This would provide a big boost for British farming and help reduce the huge environmental impact of food production.

To download the letter sent to Stephen Byers as a PDF please click here.

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Published 25 Mar 2010

Good Food for Our Money Campaign: The Good Food for Our Money campaign ran from 2008 to 2011. After several notable successes, this campaign has now evolved to focus on winning healthy and sustainable food standards for hospital food, in parallel with Sustain's existing work on the Children's Food Campaign to secure healthy and sustainable food standards for school meals.

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