Alliance for Lobbying Transparency statement, 17 Oct 2011.
Although David Cameron once said that lobbying was the next great political scandal, the Conservatives have so far refused to regulate lobbying, despite the commitment in the May 2010 Coalition Agreement.
In the wake of the Fox / Werrity scandal, the Tories must now force their many friends in the lobbying industry to operate in the open.
We urgently need public scrutiny of who is influencing this government’s decisions and how. Whether it's on health policy, changes to planning, banking reform or defence.
A robust statutory register of lobbyists would let us see how many millions are being spent by private healthcare companies, or the size of the supermarket lobby, or which arms companies are lobbying our defence secretary. This one simple register has the power to radically alter public understanding, and change political debate.
For too long lobbying scandals have merely claimed the careers of individual politicians, but left the huge influence industry untouched. Finally the spotlight has turned on those paying to persuade our politicians, an industry that's worth £2bn in the UK.
Lobbbyists have sought to delay and weaken the coalition’s commitment to regulate lobbying. This must not be allowed to happen. We need to see who is influencing whom, and we need to see the money that they’re spending.
This government's commitment to transparency looks increasingly like spin.
Without irony, the minister in charge of introducing lobbying transparency regulations, Mark Harper, is refusing to release details of his discussions with lobbyists over lobbying transparency rules.
SpinWatch submitted an FOI request to the cabinet office in August 2010. Fourteen months on, the release of the information is still being blocked.
Now is the time that our politicians need to prove that their relationship with the people of this country counts more than their friendships with lobbyists.