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UK needs lobbying register, says Friends of the Earth

UK needs lobbying register, says Friends of the Earth
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UK needs lobbying register, says Friends of the Earth

Finance | Tania Mason | 21 May 2008

The government should establish a mandatory lobbying register that is available to the public to see who has been lobbying who and how much money they have spent on it, Friends of the Earth has suggested.

Giving evidence to a Public Administration Select Committee hearing on lobbying last week, Friends of the Earth (FoE) corporates campaigner Owen Espley (pictured) said there needed to be much more transparency and accountability in lobbying and that a mandatory lobbying register would go a long way to bring this about.

Espley said similar registers in North America have successfully opened up the lobbying industry to greater public scrutiny, and that certain thresholds ensure that smaller groups aren’t burdened with red tape in complying with them.

In Canada, he said, the threshold is time. If an organisation spends more than five days per quarter engaged in lobbying, then they must enter it on the register. In the US it is based on expenditure over a certain period. “This helps ensure that small, comunity organisations or local groups aren’t burdened by it,” Espley said.

“The idea of the register is to record who is lobbying who on which issues, and which resources are going into lobbying.

“We are not anti-business, we are just calling for more transparency and accountability...there are currently too many revolving doors, too many secret meetings.”

Friends of the Earth recently won a legal battle to force the government to hand over documents detailing lobbying meetings it held with the Confederation of British Industry.

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