Ministers Don’t Publish Legally Required Diaries of Meetings
It seems that Guido writes this story every few years when a lobbying scandal blows-up. The self-regulating Public Relations Consultants Association’s Public Affairs Board has, again, called for urgent reforms to the “unfit” Lobbying Act, which was introduced when David Cameron was Prime Minister. Ironic.
The PRCA’s six-point “Public Confidence Plan for Reform” entails:
- The Lobbying Act should be expanded to cover all of those engaged in lobbying, including those working in-house in charities, campaigning groups, think tanks, trades unions, businesses, organisations and private companies.
- Interactions covered by the Act should be expanded to include Special Advisers and senior civil servants, from director-general level up.
- The Government should extend the existing limitations on former ministers taking paid lobbying positions to at least a five-year ban. This includes in-house roles. Former ministers should be required to behave in the spirit of the Nolan Principles.
- Ministers should stop ignoring the rules under which they are legally obliged to publish Ministerial Diaries in a timely manner.
- The process governing the award of parliamentary passes should be reviewed and tightened significantly. The PRCA said it will conduct its own study, given the lack of Government and Parliamentary progress on this issue.
- The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists should no longer allow registrants to declare self-written and self-policed codes, which are neither independent nor independently enforceable.
The current Lobbying Act is not fit for purpose because many lobbyists simply do not declare they are lobbyists – Peter Mandelson for example. Ministers don’t declare their meetings as promised (a promise that Labour also made to do in opposition and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is supposed to do). If politicians won’t publish their diaries as required, what hope is there that lobbyists will come clean about meeting them?