FRIDAY 13 JUL 2012 12:40 AM


A six-month-long effort by the Government to ensure greater transparency in lobbying has been stalled by the Political Constitutional Reform Committee. The Committee, after completing six evidence sessions has decided that regulation of Parliamentary lobbyists will not be undertaken in the form of a statutory register.

The register was to include all lobbyists acting on behalf of a third-party. Lobbyists in this group comprise less than one percent of all ministerial meetings. The Committee claims that the register, had it been supported, would not have improved public transparency in Parliamentary dealings with lobbyists.

The report recommends instead that regulation is established "to cover all those who lobby on behalf of charities, trade unions, and think tanks."

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, an independent organisation, claims that corporations employing lobbyists to promote their policy goals have an affect on the public that is not being regulated.

Mark Harper, the Political and Constitutional Reform minister, argued in favour of the register to the PCRC in the sixth and final evidence-taking session on 17 May.

‘If we publish the fact that there were meetings in which ministers met companies that lobby for third parties, it is not clear who they were actually being lobbied by,’ Harper said. ‘The Minister may know-in fact, will know-but the outside world will not, and that is the gap we were trying to close in our proposals.’

Yet, the PCRC maintains that transparency could be achieved in other ways including significantly more detailed documentations of MP’s meetings with lobbyists.