1 March 2011 Image

An estimated 85-90% of lobbyists are shunning a new transparency register to be launched later today by the lobbying industry as part of its bid to stave off statutory regulation, a new survey shows. 

The survey by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency of the industry’s own figures has found that that:

  • Up to 90% of lobbyists are not registered;

  • Fewer than 3% of in-house lobbyists had signed up by February’s deadline;

  • Lobbying agencies absent from the register include those close to the Conservatives, such as influential city firm Brunswick, chaired by Alan Parker with whom David Cameron has holidayed; and Terrington Management, run by a former Tory defence minister, which claims to be able to help defence companies “meet the right people, at the right time”;

  • No law firms, management consultants, accountancy firms, charities or think tanks are registered – all of these sectors are actively involved in lobbying. Law firms that lobby include Global Government Relations (GGR), until recently co-chaired by Lib Dem peer Lord Clement-Jones; GGR is part of law firm DLA Piper, which has represented the Libyan government in its negotiations with the EU. However, DLA Piper has also failed to sign up to the EU's own voluntary lobby register. 

  • UKPAC’s register has minimal disclosure requirements – it only lists names of lobbyists and clients / employers – deemed to be completely inadequate. 

The new register of lobbyists is published by the UK Public Affairs Council , an organisation formed by the lobbying industry’s trade bodies – the lobbyists’ lobbyists. It is designed to be a pre-emptive strike against the Coalition government’s commitment to introduce a statutory register.

Worryingly, the Coalition government is now considering UKPAC’s voluntary register as a ‘blueprint’ for its own statutory register and the timetable for introduction of the latter has slipped to May 2012.  

The system of self-regulation has already failed. A two year Parliamentary inquiry into lobbying concluded that this system of self-regulation by lobbyists was “little better than the emperor’s new clothes”. 

Tamasin Cave of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency said: “This new register is no more than a PR stunt from the PR experts. With so few lobbyists registered, and so little information revealed, the public and Parliamentarians still don’t know which outside interests are wielding, in David Cameron’s words ‘unhealthy influence’”. 

“Only a statutory register of lobbyists can force the £2 billion influence industry out into the open, so that we can really see who is lobbying whom, and crucially which policies they are trying to influence and how much money they are spending. The government must act on its promise now to introduce a statutory register.”