After the incident with Mr. Paterson, the government did not focus on its lobbying, but on the need to revise the system that instead monitors the behavior of MPs – giving members more opportunities to appeal against the results. The professional lobbying industry has grown rapidly since the mid-1990s and was valued at £1.9 billion in 2007 and employed 14,000 people.  The report also suggested that some MPs be approached by lobbyists more than 100 times a week. Despite this “dog breakfast” of a law that surprised many by including it in the law book, there is a certain prospect of reform on these beautiful and ancient islands. The Scottish government has introduced a bill that could improve the transparency of lobbies north of the English border. But even their proposals fall somewhat short of the target: under the Scottish Government`s current plans, lobbyists would only be covered if they had face-to-face meetings with ministers, and reporting obligations would not provide much more information about what they are trying to influence or how much they spend on these activities. In 2009, the House of Commons Special Committee on Public Administration recommended the creation of a statutory registry of corporations and lobbying activities (similar to the one required in the United States), but the government rejected this recommendation.  In March 2010, Dispatches and The Sunday Times registered four MPs lobbying in exchange for Cabinet influence.
Stephen Byers, a former cabinet member, said he would work up to £5,000 a day and was like a “taxi for hire”.    Many different groups may consider lobbying, including charities, unions and industry representatives. Westminster is full of rebellions, about-faces and resignations this week after MP Owen Paterson was found guilty of breaching parliamentary rules on lobbying. But what does the term mean? The Lobbying, Non-Partisan Campaigns and Union Administration Transparency Act (the “Act”) was first introduced in the House of Commons in 2013 and came into full force on April 1, 2015.  However, the Act only requires the registration of consultant lobbying as required by section 1 of the Act (for the definition of consultant lobbying, see section 2 of the Act). In addition to legal registration, individual lobbyists or lobbying organisations can register with the UK Lobbying Register, which aims to promote transparency and professional standards in this sector.  More detailed information on the legal framework, rules and procedure relating to lobbying, political party funding and anti-corruption measures in the UK is available in our full chapter. The report recommended “a legal register of lobbying activities to bring more transparency to business between Whitehall decision-makers and external interests”.  He also concluded that the self-regulation of the professional lobbying industry was “fragmented” and “appears to involve very little substantive regulation.”  In October 2009, the government responded to the PASC report by rejecting a mandatory registry of pressure groups. Instead: Although this is direct lobbying in Parliament, MPs should never put themselves in a position where they could break the law. Because in order to register, they must declare themselves advisory lobbyists. And this is strictly prohibited by their code of conduct.
The Code of Conduct for MEPs dictates their ethical standards. But their lobbying actions are also bound by the law – in particular the Lobbying Transparency Act of 2014, non-partisan campaigns and union administration. In October 2007, Lord Hoyle, a member of the House of Lords, received an undisclosed sum to introduce a gun lobbyist, a former RAF officer who worked for BAE Systems, to Defence Minister Lord Drayson. The lobbyist also had a security card as a “research assistant” to another MP. Accepting money for presentations is “frowned upon,” but not illegal.  He stated that some of the allegations that the government`s processes for managing lobbying were “not sufficiently transparent,” had “loopholes,” and allowed “a privileged few with disproportionate access to government decision-makers” were “justified.” The current level of lobbying is a cause for concern, as is the so-called “revolving door” through which industry experts are rapidly moving from a legislative to a commercial role in the same sectors, resulting in potential conflicts of interest. Ministers are increasingly using special advisers (staff personally employed by the Minister but paid for by public funds) who are often chosen from related private sector industries and who have sometimes been criticized for participating in campaigns while still in the pay of the government, or for having changed directly between the lobbying roles and the advisory role.  But Mr Cameron, who left Downing Street in 2016, became the centre of a lobbying dispute over his work for Greensill Captial in early 2021. Ministers and senior officials are effectively prohibited from pressuring their former counterparts for two years after leaving the government. Lobbyists must also register in a register set up by David Cameron as Prime Minister.
Formal procedures allow individual members of the public to put pressure on their MP, but most lobbying activities focus on lobbying businesses, charities and trade associations, where organizations seek to change government policies through advocacy. Tandards is the word of the day after the government watered down controversial plans to revamp disciplinary proceedings for MPs and examine a senior conservative`s alleged violation of lobby rules on “defamation” charges. In 2014, four years after promising the public to make lobbying transparent, the UK government introduced legislation that would introduce a very limited legal register of lobbyists. This would only require consulting lobbyists – those who represent clients – to register if they have contacted a small number of people directly, such as ministers and some senior officials. So, hypothetically speaking, you could be a gigantic corporate monolith spending considerable sums of money to influence the UK government`s deliberations on an important issue that could affect tens of millions of people and billions of pounds of public money – but Joe Public wouldn`t be wiser. But what exactly is lobbying, when does it venture into illegality and who is responsible for holding elected legislators accountable? In an attempt to steer our governments in the right direction, Transparency International UK has published a new strategy paper setting standards of good practice for regulating lobbying in the various UK political institutions. This includes transparency of lobbies, standards of integrity for public servants, and ways to create the revolving door between the public and private sectors. If politicians in all parts of the kingdom became aware of these proposals, we could finally begin to drag our political system into the second half of the 20th century. Our Public Law and Regulatory team is the author of the UK chapter Getting the Deal Through – Government Relations 2020.
Written by experts from around the world, Government Relations provides a comparative first step in the legal framework, regulations and procedures relating to the practice of government relations and lobbying in major jurisdictions around the world, including the UK. Companies and individuals operating in this sector often use the terms “public relations”, “public relations”, “political advice” or “corporate affairs” to describe their activities (although this is also a reaction to the negative publicity surrounding the word “lobbyists” after the 1994 Cash for Questions case).  Professional public affairs bodies representing several clients assume a significant share of the lobbying activities in addition to individual organizations that lobby internally […].