Politicians Discuss Lobbying Reform to Prevent Scandal
Recently in a political report, a Downing Street spokesperson announced that the Government’s newly proposed lobbying reform could still be subject to further changes.
The Government’s plans to impose new legislation on the British lobbying industry have been received with huge criticism and have sparked an ardent controversy among several politicians.
The legislation, issued by Prime Minister David Cameron, aims at preventing lobbying scandals during the campaigns organized before political elections. The new bill must undergo another reading by the Commons in September before it can be approved by the House of Lords and, consequently, instated as a law by the end of the year.
British politicians are confident that Number 10 will successfully pass through the House of Lords, a spokesman confirmed that if the bill has to be refined following the evaluation, they will do so.
“If we feel the need to refine the legislation then of course we will,” he said.
In response to the continuous debate over the new legislation, government officials have issued a report claiming that the bill will not ban any form of campaigning during elections, including unions and annual conferences.
A Cabinet Office representative said that the bill is all about “extending transparency to further give the public more confidence in the way third parties interact with the political system.”
He added that the new legislation “will ensure that we know who lobbyists lobby for and how much money is spent on third party political campaigning.”
“Where third parties campaign in a way which supports a particular political party or its candidates, they will be required to record and disclose expenditure on those campaigns.
“This bill does not include campaigning by third parties – charities, trade unions, or other organisations – that are not intended to promote the electoral success of any particular party. So a third party campaigning only on policy issues would be exempt,” he concluded.
Graham Allen, chairman of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, has strongly dismissed the bill: “Instead of addressing the prime minister’s promise to ‘shine the light of transparency’ on lobbying, this flawed legislation will mean we’ll all be back in a year facing another scandal. It is a dog’s breakfast.”
He added that the new legislation is “ineffective” and “ridiculous”, insisting that it lacked credibility and ”would not open up the £2 billion lobbying industry to effective scrutiny.”
Commons leader and MP Angela Eagle had also expressed her disappointment towards the badly structured reform: “It is rushed, incoherent and looks likely to make things worse not better. The proposals on lobbying are so narrow they are laughable.”
According to officials, the bill raised concerns that only lobbying organizations that list campaigning as their main activity would need to register under the new legislation.
The dispute determined Head of the Commons committee Graham Allen to organize a series of special meetings, in order to determine whether further actions is required before the bill goes through the Parliament for evaluation next month, when MPs return to Westminster.
Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith criticized the reform as an “outrageous attack on freedom of speech worthy of an authoritarian dictatorship”, while Allen hopes that their initiative would determine ministers to reconsider their plans.