Today, the Guardian reported that the registrar of consultant lobbyists, Alison White, has launched an investigation into the use of All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) to bypass lobbying rules.
Commenting on these plans, Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, said:
“Unlock Democracy shares the registrar’s concern that APPGs are potentially being used by consultant lobbyists to get around existing rules that are in place to create transparency in the industry. We know that APPGs can and have been utilised by lobbyists, with this being a well trodden path to gaining access and influence.
“This behaviour is unsurprising, and is enabled by the extremely limited scope of the existing lobbying register. It speaks to how narrow our current lobbying register is, that only where an APPG is being operated by a consultant lobbyist, and where that lobbyist has made direct representations to a minister or permanent secretary, will they need to sign up.
“Until the government strengthens the lobbying register by broadening its remit to include all lobbying activity undertaken by all types of lobbyists - and not just consultant lobbyists - we can expect the vast majority of activity to continue behind closed doors, away from public and parliamentary scrutiny.”