The government has promised to revise its proposals for a statutory register of lobbyists, proposals which are widely seen as not fit-for-purpose.

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency welcomes the commitment, which is published in a document summarising responses to the Cabinet Office’s consultation paper “Introducing a Statutory Register of Lobbyists”. However, ALT is concerned that document also appears to show the government is not listening to public concerns about lobbying.

The responses to the Cabinet Office’s consultation for a register show:

  • Strong support for a statutory register of lobbyists
  • A clear understanding of the need for a robust definition of lobbying, to determine who should be required to register
  • Widespread support for the definition to include all lobbyists, including in-house lobbyists
  • Significant support for the register to include more information, including crucially what issues are being lobbied on
  • A majority of respondents favour the disclosure of financial information alongside other basic information
  • A majority in favour of the register being run by an independent body.

These responses are broadly in line with ALT's proposals for a register, showing that there is widespread support for a robust register of lobbyists.

This is in spite of the fact that the government appears not to have counted the views of the tens of thousands of people who took part in the consultation, including over 1,300 members of the public who submitted full consultation responses to the government through Unlock Democracy's website. Likewise, the views of the 74,000 people who signed a petition calling for a robust register of lobbyists also appear to have been ignored, being relegated to an Appendix at the end of the document. Ahead of the consultation, the Cabinet Office gave assurances to ALT and Unlock Democracy that the views of the public would be counted.

ALT now calls on the government to respond to this clear message from lobbyists, transparency campaigners and the public, and draft new proposals for a register that covers all the industry and one which contains sufficient meaningful information on lobbying. Only then will we be able to scrutinse the influence industry and its impact on government decision-making.

The government will now take this evidence, and the conclusions of the recent inquiry into lobbying transparency, and produce a White Paper and draft Bill before the end of this Parliamentary session (Spring 2013).