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Campaign win? Conservatives back ban on secret lobbying

April 19th, 2010 by

Update: here’s exactly what Jeremy Hunt said “We have said there needs to be statutory register of interest so that everyone knows precisely what lobbying companies are doing and who they lobbying on behalf (sic) and I think the other thing we need is total transparency so people know who their mps have been seeing.

During the 38Degrees/Guardian people powered debate, the Conservative Shadow Culture Secretary, Jermey Hunt confirmed that the party now backs a statutory register of lobbying interest.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats already supported a compulsory register of lobbyists, but until today Conservative policy was to favour the lobbying industries preferred option – self-regulation – described by lobbying transparency campaigners described as “woefully inadequate”.

In the face of growing opposition, including thousands of 38 Degrees members signing a petition to David Cameron, the Conservatives have caved in. Jeremy hunt confirmed twice on air that Conservative policy is to favour a “statutory register”.

We’ll update this post as soon as we hear more.

About a Statutory register:
This would require all lobbyists to make public who they are, who they are lobbying for and which areas of public life they are seeking to influence. A register would provide the much needed public scrutiny of who has the ear of this or any future government. You can find out more here.


Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

  • http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2010/04/have-the-tories-changed-their-policy-on-lobbying/ Have the Tories changed their policy on lobbying? | Westminster Blog | FT.com

    [...] Anti-lobbying campaigners are already claiming victory. Looks like a short lived manifesto commitment. [...]

  • http://www.inspirationalthinking.com Richard Merrick

    Here's what my PPC said; not much ambivalence here, and a commitment to legislation “if self regulation doessn't work”. We need to up the ante – the self regulation aspect is not credible after the DEbill disaster.

    Dear Richard

    I very much agree that tough steps are needed to clean up politics, including tackling the problems associations with lobbying.

    In February, David Cameron said: '[Lobbying] is the next big scandal waiting to happen. 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 believe that it is increasingly clear that lobbying in this country is getting out of control… I believe that secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people's worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest. We can't go on like this. I believe it's time we shone the light of transparency on lobbying in our country and forced our politics to come clean about who is buying power and influence' (Speech, 'Rebuilding trust in politics', 8 February 2010).

    A Conservative Government will:

    . Introduce new rules to stop central government bodies using public
    money to hire lobbyists to lobby the government. New guidance will prevent central public sector bodies hiring external firms to influence the allocation of government funds or passage of legislation.
    . Require the lobbying industry to ensure full and proper transparency
    of their clients and staff; we will legislate for a statutory register if this does not happen.
    . Ensure that ex-Ministers are banned from lobbying government for two
    years after leaving office. We will extend to ten years the period during which ex-Ministers must seek advice from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. We will put the Committee on a statutory basis, so that ignoring its advice will be an offence.
    . Require civil servants to publish online details of any meetings
    with lobbyists.
    In addition, Conservatives have committed to implement the proposals of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (the 'Kelly reforms') that Parliamentary candidates for election should declare their interests – including lobbying interests. I will be publishing my own declaration on nomination as a candidate.

    Best wishes

    Pauline Latham
    Candidate for Mid Derbyshire

    Hello,

    I am writing to ask you to pledge your support for real transparency in lobbying. Unless something is done to clean up politics, the next generation of MPs will be soon be as unpopular as the current ones.

    As a constituent, I would like to know that you are committed to greater transparency in politics and accountable decision-making. I'd like you to pledge support for a compulsory register of lobbyists.

    I would also like to see your Party publicly commit to introducing a compulsory register of lobbyists straight away if they become the next government. Please sign the pledge for lobbying transparency at http://www.38degrees.org.uk/sign-the-lobbying-p…

    I look forward to your reply.

    Yours,

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