1 Report |
1. On 13 July 2012, we published a report on
Introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. The report
examined the proposals set out in the Government's consultation
paper. It is the convention for the Government to reply to Select
Committee reports within two months.
2. On 28 November 2012, the Minister for Political
and Constitutional Reform, Chloe Smith MP, wrote to the Committee
...I am determined to find a solution that provides
transparency without hindering legitimate lobbying by those with
an interest in government policy. I will write to you in the New
Year to respond fully to your recommendations and set out my intended
3. On 4 February 2013, the Deputy Prime Minister
wrote to the Chair, to follow up on points raised during the Committee's
oral evidence session on 18 December 2012. He commented:
We are currently analysing the evidence received
through the consultation 'Introducing a Statutory Register of
Lobbyists', and are carefully considering the Committee's Report.
As you know, this is a complex issue with much information to
digest and it is important that the Government take the time to
get this right. As a result of our ongoing consideration we are
not yet in a position to produce a draft bill. However, I can
assure you that the Government remains fully committed to introducing
a statutory register and will be responding to the Committee's
recommendations in this session of Parliament.
4. On 13 February 2013, we wrote to the Deputy
Prime Minister to point out that his statement that a response
would be received "in this session of Parliament" raised
the prospect of several further months of delay. In the event,
no Government response to the Committee's lobbying report was
received before the end of the session.
5. On 2 June 2013, the press began to publish
a series of allegations about inappropriate behaviour connected
with lobbying. On 3 June came the first announcement that the
Government would publish a lobbying Bill before the summer recess.
On 4 June, the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform,
Chloe Smith, told the House:
The Government have repeatedly made very clear their
commitment to introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. The
events that have unfolded over the weekend demonstrate just how
important transparency in political life is. We will therefore
introduce legislation to provide for a lobbying register before
the summer recess. The register will go ahead as part of a broad
package of measures to tighten the rules on how third parties
can influence our political system.
6. On 11 June 2013, we wrote again to the Deputy
Prime Minister to note that we still had not received a response
to our report on lobbying and to make it clear that we were keen
to carry out pre-legislative scrutiny on a draft lobbying Bill.
7. However, despite the then Minister for Minister
for Political and Constitutional Reform, Mark Harper MP, having
told us in an evidence session on 17 May 2012 that once the Government
had considered our report, it would then "publish a White
Paper and a draft Bill during this Session of Parliament for pre-legislative
despite the Deputy Prime Minister's reference in the above quote
to producing a draft Bill, it rapidly became apparent that the
Government no longer intended to publish a Bill in draft.
8. In a letter sent to the Chair on the evening
of 17 July 2013, Chloe Smith stated:
The timetable for the introduction of the Bill has
not, regrettably, allowed for formal pre-legislative scrutiny
of the provisions. The proposals for a statutory register have,
however, been subject to a full consultation and detailed scrutiny
by the Committee and we will be undertaking targeted stakeholder
engagement over the summer to ensure that all aspects of the Bill
are subject to thorough examination.
The letter continues: "In parallel, we are
also responding to the Committee's response on Introducing a statutory
register of lobbyists and publishing our response to the report
on Recall of MPs." It was subsequently confirmed that this
letter, which we publish in full in Appendix 1, was itself the
Government's response to our report on lobbying.
9. It is utterly unacceptable
that the Government took more than a year to respond to our report
on Introducing a statutory register of lobbyists and
that when it finally responded it did so in the form of a letter
of a page and a half that does not engage with any of the detailed
points made in the report. We consider that this shows a lack
of respect for Parliament and for the many people who contributed
to our inquiry. We urge the Government to provide us with a revised
response that addresses our original report.
10. We are further dissatisfied
that we have been denied the opportunity to carry out pre-legislative
scrutiny on a draft Bill on lobbying. As recently as February
2013, the Deputy Prime Minister referred to his intention to publish
a Bill in draft. We are unclear what has changed since then and
why the timetable has suddenly become so tight. As we noted in
our reports on Improving standards in the quality of legislation
and Revisiting 'Rebuilding the House': the impact
of the Wright reforms, pre-legislative scrutiny is a vital
part of the legislative process. Bills which do not receive pre-legislative
scrutiny should be the exception not the rule. There should always
be a good reason for dispensing with pre-legislative scrutiny.
In the case of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning
and Trade Union Administration Bill there is no good reason.
1 HC Deb, 4 June 2013, col 1363 Back
Second Report from the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee,
Session 2012-13, Introducing a statutory register of lobbyists,
HC 153, Q 403 Back