Access Info urges UK government to open up lobbying
Madrid, 13 April 2012 – As part of Access Info Europe’s work on lobbying transparency, a formal submission to the UK government was presented via the Unlock Democracy‘s website in response to a public consultation on introducing a statutory register of lobbyists, on Thursday 12 April.
To ensure the transparency of lobbying both in the UK and across Europe, Access Info Europe recommends:
- – To adopt a wide definition of a lobbyist: “anyone who arranges and facilitates contact with officials on behalf of a specific interest group in order to influence the decision-making or policy-making process”.
- – To make registration mandatory for: trade unions, think tanks, large as well as small charities, pressure groups, companies, public affairs agencies, law firms and in-house lobbyists. Access Info Europe further recommended that registration should take place once two-way communication has been established with a public official.
- – That the information contained in the register be accessible, easy to compare, machine-readable and presented in an open format.
- – To update the register at least quarterly.
- – To include in the register the following information: the organisation lobbying, the name of individual lobbyist(s), information on any public office held by the lobbyist in the past five years, the public body being lobbied, the name of public official with whom contact has been made, a summary of what is being lobbied on (whether legislation, regulation or policy or government contract or grant), and the amount of money spent on lobbying (a good faith estimate). In addition, Access Info Europe proposes that lobbyists declare what the money is being spent on (gifts, dinners, events etc.) and where that money comes from. They should also disclose whether or not they have a personal relationship (friend or family) with a public official. Access Info also recommends that public officials refuse to meet unregistered lobbyists.
- – To fund the register publicly using tax payer’s money. Access Info Europe is concerned about the British government’s suggestion that the lobbying industry itself fund the register.
- – That an independent body manages the register, such as the Information or Data Protection Commissioners.
- – That this independent body be given the means and the power to fulfill the following functions:
- Maintain the register of lobbyists, and ensure it is correctly updated
- Check the accuracy of the information
- Draft and implement code of conduct
- Enforce sanctions where appropriate
- – That the Civil Service Code includes an article about how to handle relationships with lobbyists in an ethical way.
For more information:
Please contact Pam Bartlett on +34699354215 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit the ALTER-EU (Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation) website for more information.