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Lobbying transparency to be examined in new inquiry by MPs

25 July 2022

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee will conduct post-legislative scrutiny of the Lobbying Act 2014 in a new inquiry. The inquiry will examine how effectively the Act is regulating lobbying activity and was requested by the Government after the Greensill scandal exposed apparent weaknesses in lobbying rules.

MPs will also consider the Government’s wider lobbying transparency regime, looking at compliance with the requirement for Departments to disclose Ministers’, senior officials’ and SpAds’ external meetings. These are supposed to be published quarterly, though have often been delayed, and the descriptions of the purpose of the meetings have been criticised for a lack of detail and for inconsistency between Departments. The transparency of possible routes of influence not currently captured in the Government disclosures, such as lobbying through Whatsapp or social meetings, will also be assessed.

The inquiry will review the scope of Register of Consultant Lobbyists. It will examine calls for its scope to be widened to include in-house lobbyists and those in law, accountancy and other types of consultancy firms who also engage in lobbying activities but who are not currently included on the Register.

Chair's comment

Chair of PACAC William Wragg said:

“The Government charged this Committee with post-legislative scrutiny of the Lobbying Act in order to learn the lessons from the Greensill scandal. Recent revelations about privileged, off-the-books meetings between Uber and Ministers shine a spotlight on some of the shortcomings of our lobbying laws. It is important we are reassured that this kind of influencing operation cannot go undetected.

Gaps in current regulations have already been recognised in the Boardman inquiry and by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Our inquiry will build on this work and look at how we ensure lobbying transparency.

We aim to come up with robust, practical, cross-party proposals which will bolster our political system against undue influence.”

Further information

Image: PA