Memorandum from SpinWatch
The inquiry by the Public Administration Select
Committee (PASC) into lobbying represents a long overdue review
of the relations between Westminster and outside interests. The
undersigned organisations are concerned about the growing influence
of lobbying on decision-making in the UK and believe only increased
transparency can begin to restore trust in policy making and make
Ministers, elected representatives and officials more accountable
to the public.
At present there are very few ethics and transparency
rules governing lobbyists. Lobbying continues to be shrouded in
mystery. The register of member's interests and codes of conduct
for Members of Parliament, Ministers and officials and advisers
are necessary but insufficient to make lobbying transparent and
accountable, since they do not require any disclosure by lobbyists
The current approach of the lobbying industry
is to rely on self-regulation. This has demonstrably failed to
ensure transparency, does not cover all of the industry and suffers
from a lack of effective oversight.
In addition, the rules governing the conduct
of Ministers, civil servants, MPs, Lords and their staff are in
need of re-examination. Recent issues about the use of parliamentary
passes, the role of All Party groups, the "revolving door"
and the outside interests of parliamentarians have revealed some
lack of transparency and shortcomings in the ethical regulation
of the conduct of the Houses of Parliament.
Gordon Brown has indicated a desire to listen
to the views of the public and encourage a more participatory
democracy. A system that allows disclosure of all lobbyists' activities
is a significant first step in promoting confidence in policy
making, improving transparency and boosting participation.
Parliament should take determined action to
improve transparency around lobbying and the ethical conduct of
Ministers, civil servants, MPs, Lords and their staff. The aim
must be to ensure that lobby groups are not granted privileged
access and undue influence on policy-making and that public servants
are not put in the position of real and apparent conflicts of
The undersigned organisations recommend the
PASC call for the enactment of Lobbying disclosure legislation
that must include:
A mandatory system of electronic
registration and reporting for all lobbyists with a significant
annual lobbying budget. This must include disclosure of resources
expended in lobbying campaigns, which itemises expenditure by
outside interests (clients and their agents) on each piece of
legislation they have lobbied on. Reports must be made available
in a fully searchable, sortable and downloadable online database.
Enforceable ethics rules for lobbyists
(for instance prohibiting employment of officials or their relatives
for lobbying purposes).
Enhanced ethical rules on members
interests, on the role of All Party groups, and stricter regulation
of outside interests.
Recording of formal and informal
meetings between elected Members, officials and lobbyists and
logging of correspondence (to be made available in a fully searchable
An extended "cooling off"
periodone yearbefore Ministers, elected Members
and senior officials across the public sector can start working
for lobby groups or lobbying consultancies.
|Action Aid||Campaign Against Arms Trade
|Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom
||The Corner House|
|Corporate Watch||Food Ethics Council
|Friends of the Earth||nef (the new economics foundation)
|Spinwatch||Unlock Democracy (Charter 88)
|War on Want||World Development Movement