The bosses of some of the biggest companies in Britain, including BP, Shell and Jaguar Land Rover, are to be given hotlines to ministers to boost the economy.
By Andy Bloxham
1:06AM BST 23 Sep 2011
Six ministers, including Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, will act as the main point of contact for the executives.
The top 50 firms operating in the UK will be offered the telephone numbers which will span the responsibilities of three departments.
The move is expected to be announced by the Government soon.
It is intended both to ensure that good ideas are not stymied by red tape and that policy concerns can be aired directly to those in charge.
However, it will open the door to potential criticism that the scheme will give scope for direct lobbying or favouritism towards the firms included.
Mr Cable can expect calls from the chief executives of the oil and gas industry, including Shell, BP and British Gas.
The other ministers who are understood to have agreed to participate include David Willetts, the Universities and Science Minister, who will be the contact for the life science industry; Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, who will talk to technology leaders; Mark Prisk, the Business and Enterprise Minister, who will deal with car makers such as the Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and General Motors as well as aerospace firms; while Lord Sassoon, the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, will also play a role which is yet to be defined.
The final minister is Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, the Trade and Investment Minister, who generated the idea for the “strategic relations” scheme.
He will act as the liaison for General Electric.
Before he was elevated to the peerage, he was the chairman and chief executive of HSBC.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “For strategically useful firms, it’s helpful for them to have a single point of contact in government but this is in the very early stages.”
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “This programme would complement existing relationships between ministers and business. It does not necessarily follow that the best minister to lead on a company would be one who was most vulnerable to lobbying from that company.”