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Demand a robust lobbying register
Recent scandals involving the Department of the Environment and Climate Change and former generals abusing their position to influence the Minister of Defence have highlighted the need for far greater transparency over lobbying. The Leveson Report looking at media regulation has also recommended greater transparency.
New minister Chloe Smith is in charge of publishing new proposals, which are due for publication in the next few months. She can't afford to miss that deadline; otherwise the chance of introducing new legislation in the next Queen's Speech will be under threat. We can't afford to wait another year for her to take action.
7,075 people have co-signed our letter to Political and Constitutional Reform Minister Chloe Smith. Demand a lobbying register which covers all forms of lobbying and records meaningful information by adding your name here:
Text of letter:
Dear Chloe Smith,
With House of Lords reform now off the government's agenda, your department should be free to focus on delivering the coalition government’s pledge to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists.
The government’s green paper, published earlier this year, was a disappointment but to his credit, your predecessor Mark Harper indicated that he would respond constructively to its critics. Tens of thousands of people took part in that consultation requesting the proposals be improved.
We believe your final proposals need to improve on the consultation document in two crucial respects:
The register should apply to anyone who, in a professional capacity, is attempting to influence – or advise those who wish to influence – the UK government and parliament. It should not just apply to lobbying agencies, which would exempt three-quarters of the industry.
2. Meaningful information
At a minimum, the register needs to require lobbyists to reveal their dealings with government and parliamentarians: who is being lobbied and what they are being lobbied on. We also think the amount of money spent on lobbying should be declared.
Lobbying is an essential part of a healthy democracy. However, professional lobbying – an industry worth £2 billion in the UK – can subvert democracy by giving those with the greatest resources undue influence and privileged access to politicians.
Where lobbying helps to inform decision-making, it plays an important role. But it must be conducted transparently. A robust public register of lobbying needn’t create an obstacle to this and shouldn’t place an undue burden on lobbyists (with sensible exemptions for small businesses and smaller charities).
We ask that you ensure that this opportunity to rebuild public trust is not lost, and introduce real transparency in lobbying.