The UK is one step closer to having a robust lobbying register, after the Lobbying (Transparency) Bill moved to Report stage in the House of Lords on Friday (18 November 2016).
The Private Members Bill, introduced by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, seeks to broaden the remit of the existing register. In November, the bill passed the scrutiny of members of the House of Lords at Committee stage, and received cross-party support in its Second reading earlier in the year.
If enacted into law, the current register, introduced by the government in 2014, would be replaced with comprehensive measures that would bring the UK into line with other institutions such as the US, EU and more recently Scotland.
The existing lobbying register has been widely criticised by both the industry and civil society campaigners. It only covers direct engagement with Ministers or Permanent Secretaries by consultant lobbyists, excluding lobbying activities undertaken by in-house lobbyists and any representations made to any other Government officials, including MPs, Special Advisers, and Civil Servants.
In response to the outcome, Director of Unlock Democracy, Alexandra Runswick said:
“The House of Lords has taken an important step towards opening up the UK’s £2bn influence industry. The current register is woefully inadequate, allowing the vast majority of lobbying to continue in secret. The new register would give power to the public to hold professional organisations seeking to influence the government to account.
“With Brexit negotiations on the horizon, it is vital that we have a comprehensive lobbying register in place. If lobbying is left unchecked, we post-Brexit UK being shaped in the interests of those that can buy influence, rather than in the interests of the many. The public is entitled to know who is seeking to exert influence over government officials, and for what purpose.”
Notes to editors:
- Unlock Democracy exists to put power in the hands of the people. We believe that a vibrant, inclusive democracy makes everyone’s lives better
- A date for the bill going to Report stage is to be confirmed
- As a Private Member’s bill, it will require government support if it is to become law
- For more information, or to organise an extended comment / interview, please contact Sarah Clarke, Unlock Democracy's Policy and Communications Officer, by phone on 07983 280 187 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org