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

DFID announces UK's first development impact bond

17 Apr 2014

The UK is to launch the first development impact bond - an international version of the social impact...

Sector 'extraordinarily disconnected' from public, CFG chair says

15 Apr 2014

Charities are becoming “extraordinarily disconnected” from donors and supporters who do not understand...

Stephen Frost announced as Charity Awards host

15 Apr 2014

Civil Society Media is delighted to announce that this year's Charity Awards will be presented by actor...

No evidence of criminality at Tower Hamlets, say police

17 Apr 2014

The Metropolitan Police has said that there is “no credible evidence of criminality” following an...

Donations double in one day following Marathon runner’s death

16 Apr 2014

The amount donated to the National Osteoporosis Society, the charity 42-year-old Robert Berry was running...

Sector 'extraordinarily disconnected' from public, CFG chair says

15 Apr 2014

Charities are becoming “extraordinarily disconnected” from donors and supporters who do not understand...

'Technology can offer charities more than just online donations'

10 Apr 2014

Charities are focusing too much on using digital tools for fundraising instead of how technology can be...

Amnesty calls for 'full and frank disclosure' on alleged US surveillance

9 Apr 2014

Amnesty International has warned that alleged mass surveillance by the American intelligence agency NSA...

Virgin Money Giving launches app following year of growth

1 Apr 2014

Virgin Money Giving has launched an app for users after reporting that 30 per cent of traffic to its platform...

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 <<