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Saturday 10th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Sofia Lotto Persio

PEOPLE are still “in the dark” about who’s lobbying politicians despite the government’s 18-month-old register of interests, Labour’s Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe warned yesterday.

The existing register is a “very expensive exercise that serves no-one whatsoever,” said the peer as he introduced his Lobbying (Transparency) Bill in the Lords.

Just 136 have signed up, well short of the 700-plus hoped for by ministers in 2014.

The paltry take up means only half of the £265,000 cost of maintain the register has ben recouped through fees.

And he said the lack of detail meant that it’s been viewed by the public just 363 in the last six months — an average of two visits a day.

He proposed a redefinition of lobbying activity, with a new register recognising as lobbyist those individuals who facilitate a meeting or communication with a public official on matters relating to specific parliamentary business or government activities.

A summary of what or who was being lobbied and an estimate of spending on such activity would also be required, as well as the creation of a code of conduct for lobbyists.

He told peers: “The last time that this topic of transparency and lobbying was discussed in this House, it took a back seat to what popularly became known as the ‘gagging Bill,’ which was a surprise and unwelcome attack on the charity sector.”

Tory Lord Lansley, who brought in the 2014 Act for the government, said Lord Brooke’s Bill sought to include too many people.