Free Enterprise Group

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The website for the Free Enterprise Group now diverts to the Free Market Forum, which states that it “stands on the shoulders of two fantastic predecessor organisations, the Free Enterprise Group and FREER.”1 It is an initiative of the think tank The Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA)

This page relates to events in 2013, and it not currently being updated. 

The Free Enterprise Group was a group of Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) who, in their own words:

“Encourage a competitive and free economic environment;

Raise the global economic standing of the United Kingdom;

Challenge monopolies and oligopolies;

Free individuals to create, innovate and take risks.”2

Links to the Tobacco Industry

The Group’s website stated that “Administrative support for the group is supplied by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).” The webpage was registered in September 2011 by a Ruth Porter.3 In 2011, Ruth Porter was the Communications Director at the IEA. The IEA has received financial support from the tobacco industry.45


The Group was founded by Elizabeth Truss MP. As of December 2013 its members were made up of 38 Conservative MPs.6

  • Harriet Baldwin;
  • Nick de Bois;
  • Karen Bradley;
  • Robert Buckland:
  • Aidan Burley;
  • Alun Cairns;
  • Therese Coffey;
  • Charlie Elphicke;
  • George Eustice;
  • George Freeman;
  • Mark Garnier;
  • John Glen;
  • Ben Gummer;
  • Richard Harrington;
  • Chris Heaton-Harris;
  • Margot James;
  • Chris Kelly;
  • Kwasi Kwarteng;
  • Andrea Leadsom;
  • Phillip Lee;
  • Brandon Lewis;
  • Anne-Marie Morris;
  • Brooks Newmark;
  • Jesse Norman;
  • Priti Patel;
  • Christopher Pincher;
  • Mark Pritchard;
  • Dominic Raab;
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg;
  • David Ruffley;
  • David Rutley;
  • Laura Sandys;
  • Chris Skidmore;
  • Julian Smith;
  • Rory Stewart;
  • Andrew Tyrie;
  • Mike Weatherley;
  • Nadhim Zahawi

“Drop Proposals for Plain Packaging”

On 3rd December 2013, a week after the UK Government announced that a rapid review of the Australian evidence for the plain packaging of tobacco products was to be undertaken and that plain packaging could be implemented before the close of the current Parliament in 2015, a report titled “The Business of Small Enterprise” was published by the Free Enterprise Group.7

The report included a recommendation for the Government to “drop proposals for plain packaging tobacco products.”8

The aforementioned quote is the only mention of plain packaging in the 28 page report. No evidence is presented to support the Group’s recommendation. This report was publicised in the press but its connection to the IEA was not reported. Given that the IEA receives tobacco industry money, this connection is noteworthy.

TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. The Free Market Forum, History, website, undated, accessed September 2022
  2. Free Enterprise Group, FEG Homepage, accessed December 2013
  3. Who Is, Lookup of domain name, performed 4 December 2013
  4. J. Doward, Health groups dismayed by news ‘big tobacco’ funded rightwing thinktanks, The Observer, 1 June 2013, accessed June 2013
  5. Simon Millson, Group Head of Corporate Affairs for BAT, Letter to Deborah Arnott, ASH, 20 May 2013
  6. Free Enterprise Group, FEG Homepage, accessed December 2013
  7. T. Shipman, Drop cigarette pack ban, Tory MPs demand: Influential group say removing branding will hit small shops by causing sales to fall, Mail Online, 3 December 2013, accessed December 2013
  8. Free Enterprise Group, The Business of Small Enterprise, November 2013, accessed December 2013