A LOBBYING REGISTER: HOW IT WOULD WORK
What is it?
A public register of lobbying will give us the information we need to know about who is being paid to influence decision-makers in government, enabling us to form a judgment about whether their activities have influenced the outcome.
Registers are a very common tool for encouraging transparency - they ensure that certain basic information has to be published on a regular basis. In the UK, we already have registers that record donations to political parties, as well as the business interests of MPs and Peers. However, at the moment organisations or companies seeking to influence government decisions are not required by law to publish any information about their lobbying activities.
How would it work?
The register would require lobbyists - whether companies or trade unions, lobbying agencies or law firms, as well as larger charities (above a minimum financial threshold) - to regularly provide information such as:
- The organisation lobbying
- The name(s) of individual lobbyist(s)
- Information on any public office held by the lobbyist in the past five years
- The public body being lobbied
- The name of public official with whom contact has been made (government minister, senior civil servant and above)
- A summary of what is being lobbied on
- A good faith estimate of spending on lobbying
Lobbying by a member of the public, which is unpaid, or lobbying of an MP by a constituent would be exempt. We are also calling for small businesses and smaller charities to be exempt.
The register would be managed by an independent body - in the same way that the Electoral Commission already publishes donations to political parties. The information would then be made publicly available and could be scrutinised by voters and any other interested groups.
We are lobbyists ourselves. We understand the importance of lobbying in informed decision-making. But we want to see it conducted transparently, including our own lobbying. A comprehensive register needn’t be overly bureaucratic. This is what a sample entry might look like: