Demands that David Cameron be forced to explain the Bilderberg meeting
David Cameron could be forced to explain Bilderberg talks
David Cameron could be forced to give details of private talks he is holding with world leaders at the secretive meeting of the Bilderberg Group.
By Tim Ross, Political Correspondent5:07PM BST 07 Jun 2013Comments75 Comments
Downing St disclosed that the Prime Minister would attend the controversial gathering of heads of governments, former ministers, and chief executives of the world’s most powerful global corporations.
However, the discussions, on Friday, were being held on a strictly confidential basis and Number 10 said no details of the talks would be made public.
Michael Meacher, the Labour MP and former minister, will demand that Mr Cameron makes a statement to the Commons next week giving details of the meeting.
Downing Street insisted that despite the secretive meeting, the Prime Minister remained “determined to lead the most transparent government” in history, a promise he made in 2010.
More than 130 delegates from 21 countries are expected to attend the three-day event at a luxury hotel near Watford. Mr Cameron has been invited as head of the host nation’s government, a Number 10 spokesman said.
“The Prime Minister views this as an opportunity to discuss important issues with senior ministers, business people and academics,” the spokesman said.
“It is a private meeting. There won’t be a read-out.”
Mr Meacher said he would ask the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, to grant an “urgent question” in Parliament next week, which would force the Prime Minister to update MPs on his talks and answer their questions.
“This is western capitalism at its highest level. We are entitled to know,” Mr Meacher told the Telegraph.
He said there was likely to be “heavy lobbying” at the event and while he understood that world leaders spoke confidentially on a regular basis, this meeting was different.
“Where there is a congress like this, which clearly has a very important purpose, it is because something very valuable is happening in terms of their attitude, plans, proposals for the future of our economies. We, the rest of us, are going to be affected.
“When David Cameron goes to Brussels for a very important meeting of heads of government of the 27 [EU member] states, he gives a statement to the House of Commons and subjects himself to cross-examination from MPs.
“If we can do that on an issue which we already largely know about, why not on this much more important occasion?”
It is believed to be the first time that Mr Cameron has attended the controversial annual gathering.
Downing Street insisted that Mr Cameron was committed to promoting “transparency” in government. A spokesman said no civil servants would attend the meeting but that it would be “recorded” in the usual way.
“The Prime Minister has always been clear about the importance of transparency. The Prime Minister has meetings with key ministers from other countries and with business people as part of his job but that doesn’t mean that he’s not determined to lead the most transparent government,” the spokesman said.
Calls for more details to be given of Mr Cameron’s contacts at the event are likely to intensify as the guest list also includes George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Kenneth Clarke, another senior Tory minister.
The meetings began in 1954 as a forum to bring together the leaders of Western Europe and the United States to address the threat from the Soviet Union.
All discussions are held on strictly confidential terms and security at the meetings is tight.
Previous gatherings have attracted angry demonstrations and protesters. Downing St declined to give details over whether taxpayers would pay the bill for policing the meeting in Hertfordshire.
Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, is also attending, along with Lord Mandelson, the former Labour Cabinet minister.
Other guests include Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, Bob Dudley, chief executive of BP, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.