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

Sector must address gap between public perception of charities and the truth, says Sir Stuart Etherington

28 Jan 2015

Public perception of what charities do can be very different to the truth and an "intelligent engagement...

Caron Bradshaw: ‘I think we took on too much too quickly’

28 Jan 2015

The chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, Caron Bradshaw, said yesterday that her charity took...

WWF UK’s total income rose seven per cent in 2014 financial year

27 Jan 2015

WWF UK's total income for the year ending June 2014 rose to £62.2m, an increase of £3.8m, or seven per...

Charities who ignore 'no cold callers' signs are not in breach of Iof Code of Practice, says FRSB

29 Jan 2015

Doorstep fundraisers can ignore “no cold callers” signs without breaching the Code of Fundraising...

Macmillan Coffee Morning raises record breaking £25m

29 Jan 2015

Macmillan’s flagship fundraising event, the World's Biggest Coffee Morning, has beaten its previous...

BP donations to Tate 'embarrassingly small' say campaigners

27 Jan 2015

An arts charity has criticised the Tate for accepting an “embarrassingly small” amount of money from...

NGO domain pages will launch in May

28 Jan 2015

The Public Interest Registry will make the .ngo generic top-level domain name generally available from...

Comparison website for special needs services launched by charity consortium

23 Jan 2015

A coalition of social care charities has launched a TripAdvisor-style website, designed to help families...

CRUK debuts contactless giving through shop windows

21 Jan 2015

Cancer Research UK has announced a collaboration with outdoor media owner Clear Channel to bring contactless...

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 <<