Share

Statutory lobbying register proposal should be scrapped, say MPs

Statutory lobbying register proposal should be scrapped, say MPs
News

Statutory lobbying register proposal should be scrapped, say MPs

Governance | Tania Mason | 13 Jul 2012

The government should scrap its plans for a statutory register of lobbyists because it simply wouldn’t be very effective at improving transparency, an influential committee of MPs has recommended.

The advice from the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee is the culmination of a six-month inquiry into the proposed register which involved six evidence sessions and a public consultation.

The intention of the statutory register was to regulate lobbying of government and make it easier to find out who was gaining the ear of ministers and their advisers.  But the latest draft of the proposals meant that the register would apply only to those who carry out lobbying on behalf of third-party clients. In-house lobbyists would not be captured by the legislation.

In its conclusions, the Committee said this meant the register would have very little impact. It said it had seen no evidence to suggest that third-party lobbyists are a particular problem – “indeed the government’s own records of ministerial meetings suggest that third-party lobbyists make up less than 1 per cent of all meetings with ministers”.

Singling out third-party lobbyists would “meet a Coalition pledge, but do little to improve transparency about lobbying”, it said.

The UK Public Affairs Council had warned in its evidence that introducing a register without a code of conduct could actually reduce regulation of the lobbying industry.

The Committee concluded: “We believe that no statutory register is better than what the government currently proposes.”

Medium regulation would be better

Instead, the Committee recommended that the government should abandon the statutory register proposal and instead bring in “medium regulation” to cover all those who lobby professionally, in a paid role, including charities, trade unions and think tanks. This system would “require lobbyists to disclose the issues they are lobbying government on”.

It said the government can do plenty to improve transparency without a statutory register, such as publishing information about ministerial meetings within a month of their happening; improving the level of detail in meeting disclosures; publishing the company or charity number of the organisation doing the lobbying, and standardising the format of meeting data.

NCVO response

The NCVO, which had responded to the consultation on behalf of its charity members, welcomed the Committee’s advice.  Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive, said: “We are pleased that this report recognises the limitations of the government’s proposals and strengthens the recommendations for publishing details about ministerial meetings.

“The committee’s new proposals for a wider register have some merits.  If these are taken forward, it will be important to do this in a way which does not place a financial or administrative burden on charities.  It is particularly crucial that they do not discourage smaller charities from engaging with the political system.”

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

Nandy demands PM inquiry into Big Society Network grants

24 Jul 2014

Lisa Nandy, the shadow minister for civil society, has written to David Cameron demanding an inquiry into...

Nesta: ‘We were not forced to fund Big Society Network’

24 Jul 2014

Nesta has denied a claim by a former board member that it was “forced” to provide start-up funding...

Barnardo's launches retail gift aid appeal

23 Jul 2014

Barnardo’s has launched an appeal to raise awareness of retail gift aid and the extra £6.5m that could...

Nandy demands PM inquiry into Big Society Network grants

24 Jul 2014

Lisa Nandy, the shadow minister for civil society, has written to David Cameron demanding an inquiry into...

Unicef raises £3.1m from Commonwealth Games opening ceremony appeal

24 Jul 2014

Unicef raised £3.1m through text and online donations from UK viewers watching the Commonwealth Games’...

People think charities spend just two-fifths of their income on 'the cause', research shows

24 Jul 2014

People think charities spend just 38 per cent of their income on ‘the cause’, but they believe organisations...

Greenpeace video removed from YouTube following copyright claim

14 Jul 2014

A campaign video by Greenpeace against Lego’s relationship with Shell has been subject to a copyright...

Oxfam advert removed after appearing before extremist videos

10 Jul 2014

Oxfam has removed one of its adverts from YouTube after it was shown on channels showing content from...

Data protection proposals 'potentially catastrophic' for fundraising

8 Jul 2014

EU data protection proposals could have a “potentially catastrophic” impact on charity fundraising,...

Join the discussion

Twitter
 
Training

Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<