Scandals involving inappropriate links between professional lobbyists, politicians and civil servants have been constantly in the news. Whether it is about Rupert Murdoch, changes to the NHS or banking sector reform, time and again it emerges that lobbyists have been courting politicians and officials to change laws and regulations or award them, or their clients, government contracts, all to benefit their bottom line and often against the public interest.
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.
The problem is, at the moment, most of this is done in secret. We can’t make an informed decision about what is or isn’t appropriate.
If we don’t know who is pulling the strings, how can we hold our elected politicians to account?
The solution is a robust public register of lobbying
New rules must apply to all paid lobbyists:
- Lobbyists-for-hire, working on behalf of clients
- Lobbyists employed by companies, trade bodies, business groups, trade unions and large charities
Lobbyists should be made to reveal:
- Who is lobbying whom
- What they are lobbying for
- How much money is being spent on lobbying