13 July 2012

Yet another Parliamentary inquiry has endorsed the need for a strong statutory register encompassing all lobbyists, to allow real public scrutiny of the influence industry.

A report published today by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee calls on the government to scrap its limited proposals for a register of lobbyists, and instead introduce one that covers all paid lobbyists.

Under the government’s current plans, only agency lobbyists would be required to behave transparently. This would mean, for example, that a group of small shops hiring a lobbyist to fight plans to expand supermarkets in their area would have to register while Tesco’s vast in-house lobbying team would be exempt. This is clearly ridiculous.

The Committee also calls for the register to include enough meaningful information to allow proper scrutiny of lobbyists' activity, namely who is lobbying whom. ALT believes it should also record how much is being spent trying to influence politicians. When we learn that the financial services sector has a fighting fund of nearly £100m a year, knowing lobbying budgets matters.

Over two years ago David Cameron warned that lobbying in this country had got 'out of control'. Why wait for more scandals? The government must get on with it, and create a robust register of lobbyists without delay.

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee's verdict on the government's current plans can be read here.