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House of Lords Library

Lobbying (Transparency) Bill [HL]: Briefing for Lords Stages

Published Monday, September 5, 2016

This House of Lords Library briefing provides background information in advance of the second reading of the Lobbying (Transparency) Bill [HL] in the House of Lords on Friday 9 September.

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The Lobbying (Transparency) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Labour). The Bill had its first reading on 24 May 2016 and is scheduled to have its second reading on 9 September 2016. The Bill would repeal Part 1 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014, the legislation which currently provides for a statutory register of consultant lobbyists, and replace it with a new statutory register covering a wider range of lobbying activity. 

Under the Bill’s provisions, both consultant lobbyists and in-house lobbyists from a wide range of organisations would be required to register. A person would be deemed to be engaged in ‘lobbying activity’ if they arranged or facilitated a meeting with a public official, or communicated with a public official, on matters relating to specified parliamentary business and specified government activities. The public officials covered by this definition of lobbying activity would include members of both Houses of Parliament and their staff, as well as staff of government departments, executive agencies, non-ministerial government departments, non-departmental bodies, and regulatory bodies. Currently, only consultant lobbyists who communicate personally with government ministers or permanent secretaries (or equivalent) are required to register. The Bill would require registrants to provide a greater range of information than is currently required, such as a summary of what was being lobbied on and who was being lobbied, an estimate of how much was spent on lobbying activity, and whether any of the lobbyists had held a public office in the ten years prior to the start of the lobbying.

The Bill would also introduce a statutory code of conduct for lobbyists. Currently, consultant lobbyists must indicate on their register entry whether they have undertaken to comply with a code of conduct, but there is no statutory code.

The current statutory register of consultant lobbyists was established in March 2015. The Government said in March 2016 that it had no plans to increase the scope of the register. However, the relatively narrow scope of the current legislation has been criticised and there have been calls for it to be replaced or strengthened. The Labour and Liberal Democrat parties both pledged to introduce an expanded registration regime for lobbyists in their manifestos for the 2015 general election.

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House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.