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By Bishop of St Albans
By Bill Kidd MSP
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The Lobbying Act - 'scrap it and start again'

The Lobbying Act - 'scrap it and start again'
2 min read

Shadow minister, Lisa Nandy, says Labour will seek to block the 'ill thought out' Lobbying Register which has done 'nothing to shine a spotlight on the relationship between politicians and lobbyists.'

Days ago, the government finally rushed out its proposed lobbying register with only weeks to go until the general election.

The register is a mess. At most it will cover only 1% of lobbyists and in recent weeks the government's own registrar admitted she only expected between 50 and 75 lobbyists to register. It's backed by no code of conduct and no sanctions and requires lobbyists to disclose limited information about meetings with ministers, but not their special advisers. As a result it wouldn't have prevented any of the recent scandals that have beset this government.

This shambles leaves us with a lobbying registrar, commanding a six figure salary, presiding over a register that does nothing to increase transparency. With so few expected to register, the government's claim that it will be self funding has unravelled. At best it's a costly waste of time. At worst it lends a hallmark of respectability to organisations who do register, without any standards attached.

The Lobbying Act, described by the chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee as a "dog's breakfast" achieved the remarkable feat of uniting lobbyists, transparency campaigners, trade unions and charities against it. While it has left charities and campaigners to grapple with confusing, restrictive provisions in the run up to the election, it has done nothing to shine a spotlight on the relationship between politicians and lobbyists.

That's why this week Labour will seek to block the Lobbying Register by praying against the government's regulations. It's an ill thought out, costly set of proposals that will do nothing to shine a spotlight on the relationship between lobbyists and politicians. In its place we will construct a comprehensive register, covering both in house and consultant lobbyists, backed by a code of conduct and real sanctions.

The Lobbying Act commands no public confidence and does nothing to clean up politics. It's time to scrap it and start again.

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