10 March 2011
"The new register of lobbyists published by the UK Public Affairs Council" says Austin Mitchell MP, "is riddled with errors, omissions, inconsistencies and redactions... it includes the entries of only a very small percentage of the thousands of lobbyists who should be registered and it includes substantially less information than many registrants would have wished."
Mitchell's criticism comes in a Motion he's raised in the House of Commons, which highlights the lobbying industry's "failure to deal with registration in an open, transparent, comprehensive and professional manner".
It calls on the government to quit stalling and "bring forward legislation to regulate the lobbying profession without further delay", underlining the indisputable fact that "the consistency and clarity of statutory regulation is now the only appropriate course of action". The government's timetable for a statutory register has slipped six months to May 2012.
He's not alone in his criticism and frustration. Many have slammed the voluntary register since its launch last week, including one senior lobbyist who called it 'dreadful' .
While the UKPAC voluntary register does nothing to increase the transparency of lobbying, what is now clear as day are the industry's motives for launching it. As Telegraph blogger Ian Douglas writes: "The UKPAC list... [is] designed to avoid grasping the nettle of regulation."
The government should take note of the growing impatience with the industry's tactics (and apparent government complicity). You've said you'd regulate lobbyists. Let's get on with it.