Tory pledges to clean up lobbying are woefully inadequate, transparency campaigners claimed today.
Despite the rhetoric, David Cameron’s promise to clean up the political system is not backed up with meaningful action.
Although both the other main parties have signed up to a statutory register of lobbyists, the Conservatives remain committed to self regulation.
Instead their manifesto pledges that ex-Ministers will be banned from lobbying government for two years after leaving office. That is welcome
but in reality it will only immediately affect Labour if the Tories win the election.
ALT today dismissed the lobbying industry’s latest attempt to self-regulate as redundant, saying that the time had now come for statutory transparency rules for lobbyists.
In the wake of the most recent lobbying scandal, a statutory register of lobbyists now has the support of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, a third of all MPs and an influential Select Committee. The Conservative Party is alone in favouring self-regulation.
The UK Public Affairs Council, launched today by the three lobbying industry trade groups, is the new body designed to address public concerns over lobbying. It will oversee a single voluntary register of lobbyists.
Tamasin Cave of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency said:
“This is the old system of self-regulation by another name, a system that was described last year by the influential Public Administration Select Committee as “little better than the emperor’s new clothes. Recent events show such a voluntary system to be totally ineffective. UKPAC is yesterday's solution.
23 March 2010
UPDATE: Labour and the Lib Dems have both committed to introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. Petition David Cameron now to follow suit and commit to introducing a compulsory register if he gets elected.
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency today publishes an open letter to the three main party leaders calling on them to commit to introducing transparency rules for lobbyists. The letter reads:
To Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg,
The revelation that former Ministers are offering political access for cash is another serious blow to public trust in our political system.
A major first step in cleaning up politics is to introduce compulsory transparency rules for the lobbying industry. The Public Administration Select Committee called for a statutory register of lobbyists some 16 months ago.
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (ALT) believes that a statutory register is a necessary first step in allowing public scrutiny of lobbying activity. ALT is therefore calling for an unequivocal commitment from all parties to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists as a matter of urgency in the new parliament.
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency.
The lobbying industry in the UK is worth £2 billion and involves not just former Ministers, but also Lords, numerous parliamentary candidates and ex civil servants. And yet lobbying in the UK is almost entirely unregulated.
The British public has a right to know who is lobbying whom, and which areas of public life they are seeking to influence. The only way to achieve this is through a statutory register of lobbyists.
21 March 2010
An investigation by Dispatches and The Sunday Times reveals today that several MPs, including three former Labour Ministers, offered themselves for lobbying work at rates of thousands of pounds a day. Two of them promised access to ministers and boasted of their ability to help change government policies in favour of business. It's also being reported that a Tory grandee Sir John Butterfill has been touting access to Conservative party policy-makers.
Tamasin Cave of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency says:
"David Cameron warned last month that lobbying is 'the next big scandal waiting to happen'. There can be no question now that decisive action must be taken to shine the light of transparency on lobbying in this country as a matter of urgency.
David Cameron admitted today that “secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics.”
The Conservative Party must now pledge to support the introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists, as recommended by the influential Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), chaired by Tony Wright MP.
In a speech this morning, Cameron said of lobbying: “It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long...an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money. I’m talking about lobbying – and we all know how it works.