A new law which would replace the lobbying register introduced in 2014 will be debated in the House of Lords this Friday (9 September 2016). The Private Members Bill, to be introduced by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, would provide greater transparency over professional organisations seeking to influence UK politicians.
Lord Brooke has worked closely with Unlock Democracy and Spinwatch, two pressure groups which campaign on greater transparency over government decision making. Unlock Democracy and Spinwatch are members of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency.
The director of Unlock Democracy Alexandra Runswick said:
“The discredited 2014 register is an expensive distraction that tells us virtually nothing about the £2bn lobbying industry in the UK. With the UK now beginning the complex process of leaving the EU, the lobbying industry has stepped into overdrive to carve up what a post-Brexit UK looks like.
“It has never been more important that we scrutinise who is trying to influence which ministers and civil servants. If ‘taking back control’ is to mean anything, then we have to know who is trying to influence our government.”
Tamasin Cave, a campaigner with Spinwatch said:
“Theresa May has promised that she will listen to the public, not the ‘mighty’, or ‘powerful’ and that her government won’t be bent ‘by the interests of the privileged few’. But, with the juggernaut of business lobbyists heading her way, there is a very real risk that the public interest will be drowned out. Lord Brooke’s Bill would create a more level playing field by bringing all this lobbying into the open. She needs to get behind it.”
The Lobbying (Transparency) Bill would bring the UK into line with other institutions such as the US, EU and more recently Scotland. Unlike the current register, the new register would cover all paid lobbyists and require them provide information on:
- Who they are lobbying in government
- Who they are lobbying for
- What they are seeking to influence
- How much they are spending
A private members’ bill, it will require government support if it is to become law.