Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Unlock Democracy: Sign The Open Up Lobbying Joint Letter!

The Guardian reports today that lobbyists gave MPs and peers over £1.8m in 'perks' to all-party parliamentary groups last year[1]. With just 5% of lobbying activity aimed at Parliament likely to be covered by the government's proposals for a new lobbying register [2], we will still have very little idea how much in total is being spent to influence our politicians or for what purpose.

We have just 48 hours to submit our responses to the government's official consultation on their proposals to clean up lobbying. Will you sign our joint letter?

Lobbying affects everything we do, from our health service to the television we watch. The new Guardian report shows that the Associate All Party Health group received £117,000 in “membership fees” from 14 companies, funded trips to 27 countries, and free membership for peers and MPs to Weight Watchers.

It is crucial that we are given the full picture about who is trying to influence what policy decision. At the moment we have no idea. And the government's proposed new rules would only affect the practices of 1 in 4 lobbyists. Bizarrely, they would cover a group of small shops objecting to a new Tesco opening nearby if they hire a public affairs company to put their case to government but not Tesco’s own in-house lobbyists.

A partial register will do nothing to combat the perception that money talks in Westminster.  Too many loopholes will simply mean that the more disreputable side of lobbying will thrive.  We can’t allow this to continue.

More than 6,000 people have signed our open letter to Mark Harper, the minister in charge of regulating the lobbying industry.  Will you add your name?

We have just 48 hours left to take part in this consultation - it ends on Friday!  Let’s send a clear signal to the government and demand more transparency.

With best wishes,

Peter Facey
Director, Unlock Democracy

[1] Guardian: MPs' £1.8m in perks revealed

[2] Independent: Lobbyists' register to leave Parliament awash with cash from big business