The new Draft UK Bill on lobbying is a second rate offering. Key loopholes include:
- lobbyists must only register if they communicate with a Minister – other officials, however important, do not count
- all local and regional government lobbying is excluded from the register
- the register will only capture lobbying initiated by lobbyists. So if a Minister calls in a lobbyist, that need not be declared
- there will be a threshold for lobbying registrations – so ‘small’ jobs or lobbying companies needn’t be registered. This could be used to conceal important lobbying exercises
- the content of the register will not include the details of what the lobbying was all about.
The last point especially makes this Bill inferior to the US controls on lobbying on which it seems to have been modeled. No wonder David Cameron said lobbying was the next big scandal waiting to happen!