Written evidence from 38 Degrees (PGG16)
The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
Propriety of governance in light of Greensill inquiry
38 Degrees welcomes the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s call for evidence into the propriety of governance in light of Greensill, and the opportunity to share the views of many thousands of people living across the UK who care deeply about ensuring our parliamentary processes are transparent, fair and work for the majority of people, not a select few.
38 Degrees is an online campaigning organisation, made up of millions of people from every corner of the UK. We help people make their voices heard on issues they care about, so that they can make a difference in the country and in their local area.
More than 53,000 members of the public have signed an online petition calling on Parliament to clean up dodgy Parliamentary lobbying once and for all. The petition text reads:
Put in place legislation that stamps out dodgy corporate lobbying in Parliament once and for all. Politicians should do what’s right for the country, not just what benefits their friends and donors. Stop the revolving door between Parliament and big business.
In addition to this, 18,489 members of the public took part in an online survey via 38 Degrees asking for their views on a range of issues relating to lobbying - the results of which are detailed in this report. These responses were collected between 6 and 10 May 2021. Should you require a data set of all responses, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
The responses show widespread support for lobbying laws to be tightened in the UK and for there to be greater transparency around the activity of lobbyists working in Westminster.
The key findings from the survey are:
● Nearly all survey respondents (98%) did not think that billionaires should be able to privately text government ministers without it being publicly declared.
● The three most popular answers selected to the question of how lobbying laws should be tightened in the UK, were:
● The majority of respondents (63%) thought that current lobbying rules are too tough on charities and NGOs, especially in the run up to an election.
● When asked to rank who they thought government ministers and civil servants should be spending most of their time meeting; constituents, local businesses and charities and NGOs came out on top. Big business and former colleagues paid for by big business came last.
Results of the survey
“I am glad that something is being done about these scandals at last. The sooner that this sleaze is stopped, the better. The Government needs to be transparent and honest in all its dealings.”
Moragh, Crewe and Nantwich
Between 6 and 10 May 2021, 18,489 members of the public responded to a short survey via the 38 Degrees platform to share their views on parliamentary lobbying. Respondents were from every region of England and Northern Ireland (Scotland and Wales were excluded due to elections). Below are the results of this survey broken down into key themes:
Communication with government ministers
“Transparency is essential if the electorate is to regain trust in politicians.”
Blair, Rother Valley
The overwhelming majority of survey respondents want to see more transparency around communication with government ministers. 98% of respondents said they did not think that billionaires should be able to privately text government ministers without it being declared. Here is a breakdown of responses:
Total question respondents: 18,489
Tightening lobbying laws
“An Independent Watchdog must have the power to enforce lobbying rules and penalise those that break them.”
Respondents were asked to select how they would like to see lobbying laws tightened in the UK from a range of options provided. The top three ways that respondents wanted to see lobbying laws tightened were:
Here is a breakdown of responses:
Total question respondents: 17,584
Lobbying laws and charities
“One has the sense now that the government is all corrupt and self-serving. The only way to restore any trust is to be ultra clear about lobbying and donations and forbid any conflict of interest.”
The majority of respondents (63%) believe that lobbying laws are currently too tough on charities and NGOs, especially in the run up to an election.
Here is a breakdown of responses:
Total question respondents: 16,981
Government ministers’ time
“The basis of awarding Government contracts needs to be open and above board. Companies recommended by present and former Ministers, MPs, Lords and Civil Servants should get extra scrutiny to make sure they are suitable, rather than being given VIP status or fast tracked.”
Peter, Derby South
Respondents were asked to rank who they think government ministers and civil servants should spend most of their time with based on options provided, from 1 (most time) to 5 (least time). It’s clear from the ranked responses below that respondents want to see government ministers and civil servants spend the biggest amount of their time with constituents, local businesses and charities and NGOs. They want them to spend the least amount of their time with big business and former colleagues paid for by big business:
Here is a more in-depth breakdown of responses and their average score as ranked by respondents. Again, this is in order from most time (top) to least time (bottom):
Messages to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
Survey respondents were asked whether they had a message for the MPs running this inquiry. Here are a selection:
“Thank you for giving this major issue your time and consideration. We need a government we can trust and that is open and transparent. We do not want rich individuals to be able to manipulate the government or gain advantages that are not in the interest of the country.”
Maria, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
“The current lobbying system must not allow any more scandalous goings-on like what we have seen in recent months (from government ministers meeting former colleagues paid by big business behind closed doors, to multi-million pound government contracts being awarded to those with privileged access). Thank you for putting the public first and not enabling those with the most money to have the most influence, as this is only going to benefit their own interests. The system needs to be fair and it's up to you to make a positive change in this regard.”
“The public needs to be able to hold the government to account and this is the first step on the road to that, so I thank you for setting up this inquiry and to all those involved in running it.”
“Thank you very much for running this inquiry and I ask you that no matter what you come up against, please persevere. So very much gets swept under the carpet, and this really should not happen with this inquiry.”
Suzanne, Somerton and Frome
“ ‘Honesty, transparency and integrity in the service of society as a whole’ should be the mantra for all public servants in government (local and national) and the civil service. We need a means of monitoring this.”
Anthony, St Albans
The survey results, alongside tens of thousands of petition signatures, show the widespread support from members of the public across the UK for tightening lobbying laws.
It is clear that members of the public would welcome the changes necessary to tighten lobbying laws in the UK, and ensure that processes are accessible, transparent and fair for everyone.
If you would like any further information about 38 Degrees or this survey submission, or if there are any other ways that we can be of assistance to the Committee or its inquiry, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
 Who we are
38 Degrees puts power in more people's hands. We are made up of over 2 million people across the UK who come from all walks of life, from farmers in Aberdeenshire to nurses in Cornwall. The millions of us who take part in campaigns come from very different backgrounds, voted differently in the EU referendum and vote for all political parties and none, but we all agree that politics works better when more of us get involved.
We have small office teams in London and Edinburgh, but it’s when thousands of us come together that we make real change happen.
What we do
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