Friday, 23 December 2011

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Backs Register of Lobbyists

MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, has today (Tuesday 6 December) sponsored an attempt to change the law to force commercial lobbyists to make their activities public.

This follows today’s news that professional lobbyists Bell Pottinger were caught boasting about their influence over PM David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, as well as key advisers to the Prime Minister.

They were caught claiming that they used their access to Downing Street, paid for by companies, to get David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of one of their business clients within 24 hours of asking him to do so.

The ten minute rule Motion in the name of John Cryer MP, and co-sponsored by Julian Huppert, would create a public register of organisations that carry out lobbying of Parliament for commercial gain, and force them to disclose how they spend their money.

A public register for lobbyists was in both the Liberal Democrat manifesto and the Coalition Agreement.

David Cameron said in February 2010, just before the general election, that lobbying in Parliament was the “next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that exposes the far too cosy relationship between politics, Government, business and money”.

Julian Huppert said “it is completely unfair that in a modern, liberal society big business can still buy access to democratically elected politicians.

Of course, politicians should speak to all interested parties before making decisions - including organisations like charities, unions and businesses, large or small. I believe in evidence based policies.

But it is not acceptable for people to be able to buy their influence, and for that influence to remain a secret.

That is why I am supporting an attempt to change the law to force commercial lobbyists to make their activities public. If they’re using money and influence to change public policy, then the public has a right to know about it, and stop them from doing so if necessary.”

Notes to editors:

Full text of ten minute rule Motion reads:

"REGISTRATION OF COMMERCIAL LOBBYING INTERESTS

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a public register of organisations that carry out lobbying of Parliament for commercial gain; to make provision for disclosure of expenditure by such organisations; and for connected purposes."