This House of Commons Library research briefing explains how the system for registration of consultant lobbyists works in practice. The first Register of Consultant Lobbyists was published in March 2015.Jump to full report >>
Part 1 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 introduced a new registration system for consultant lobbyists, which came into operation in March 2015. The first Register was published on 25 March, and it included 53 entries.
The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists is Alison White. Her post and the registration system are intended to be self-financing from the fees received. According to the Explanatory Notes to the Bill, the fees were expected to be £200-£450 per year, with the annual net cost to business estimated at £0.48 million by the Regulatory Policy Committee. The 2015 fee per lobbying individual or organisation was set at £750. Individuals or organisations joining the register later in the year pay a reduced fee “commensurate with the unexpired portion of the calendar year at that point”. 
There have been reports that the costs of the register would not be met in 2015. The Cabinet Office announced on 10 December 2015 that the registration fee for 2016 would increase to £950 (plus £12.50 per quarterly update).
The legislation was subject to criticism by the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee and others during its passage through Parliament as not being comprehensive enough to regulate all forms of commercial lobbying. Similar criticisms were made after the Act came into force by the think tank Transparency International UK, in a report evaluating lobbying legislation in the UK, published in September 2015.
Part 1 of the Act defines consultant lobbyists and establishes a compulsory registration system. Full background to the passage of the legislation is provided in Library Briefing Paper 13/51 Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill produced for the Bill’s Second Reading in the Commons; Library Briefing Paper 6734 Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill: Progress of the Bill which details changes made in the Commons; and Library Briefing Paper 6796 Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill: Lords amendments which covers amendments made in the Lords.
Consultant lobbying covers communications with Ministers of the UK Government, Permanent Secretaries or equivalents; persons who lobby only officials of devolved administrations are not required to register.
Alison White issued guidance on 30 January 2015 in preparation for the first round of registration, which was updated on 25 March, the date when the Register was published. Guidance taking account of information provided since then was published in November 2015.