This would establish a register of lobbyists and a Code of Conduct.
A register was set up by the coalition government, but it has been criticised for not having much effect. It does not require registration of in-house public affairs professionals and only ‘third-party lobbyists’. They only have to register if they communicate directly with Ministers or Permanent Secretaries (the most senior civil servant in a department). Even the Office of Consultant Lobbyists that run the register admitted there was “all kinds of exceptions”.
As an example, someone working ‘in-house’ for a company might be a public affairs manager working for a tobacco company. They would not have to register.
Lord Clive Brooke of Alverthorpe, a Labour peer.
- It’s potentially difficult to legislate on this, as what constitutes ‘lobbying’ is a very wide definition. You cannot stop people having conversations with Ministers and you cannot police their individual interests.
- It may be better for Ministers to publish all their activities, rather than asking lobbyists to register. Departments do publish transparency data on spending but it can be difficult to track down meetings. They often only come out from lengthy FOI (Freedom of Information) requests.
How to get involved
Get in touch with Lord Brooke. You could also get in touch with the Liberal Democrat party who attempted this as their part in the coalition government.
If I don’t act, will it go through?
It’s unlikely to go through. The government has been very reluctant to change this.