Select Chair calls for more effective lobbying billOn behalf of the Government, Leader of the House Andrew Lansley MP announced in response to yesterday’s Opposition day debate that a draft bill for a statutory register of lobbyists would be published by the end of July. This bill will not have received any pre-legislative scrutiny before its publication. This knee-jerk legislation is in spite of a select committee report written last year on the issue, which the Government has chosen not to respond to.
In response to yesterday’s opposition day debate, the three lobbying bodies (APPC, CIPR and PRCA) have issued a joint statement welcoming the call for pre-legislative scrutiny, agreeing that the bill will be weak and ineffective without it. Jon Trickett MP, the shadow minister who is responsible for the register, claimed in the debate that less than a quarter of lobbyists will be included by the Government’s current plans.
The Political and Constitutional Reform committee has recommended a hybrid model of a statutory register with a code of conduct, to ensure lobbyists can be properly held to account. This hybrid model has been endorsed by the three lobbying bodies CIPR, APPC and PRCA who stated :
“Government plans to rush forward with a bill that introduces a register that only covers third party lobbyists, against the advice of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, transparency campaigners and industry representatives would undermine transparency rather than increase it by covering only a tiny minority of professional lobbyists who seek to influence public policy and law. It would also fail to address the issue of parliamentary standards highlighted in recent scandals.
“We welcome the call from the Rt Hon Graham Allen MP requesting further pre-legislative scrutiny in order to prevent the delivery of a register of lobbyists that is doomed to fail against the stated aims that the government put forward in their original proposal.
We also welcome Mr Allen’s calls for the government to consider a hybrid model for any potential code of conduct linked with the register. This would help to ensure that those who lobby could be held to account, but also ensure that the existing high standards that are set by our bodies continue to be met.”
“We will continue to work together to reach out to Government and seek to persuade Ministers that any statutory register should cover all those who lobby professionally.”
Graham Allen said “I am pleased the CIPR, APPC and PRCA have supported my calls for greater scrutiny which would prevent the production of an inadequate and ineffectual register. The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee published a report last July on the need for a statutory register of lobbyists. The Government has had all year to respond to this report but instead has chosen to rush through knee jerk legislation which will not adequately help solve this lobbying crisis”.