They criticised government plans to bring in a statutory register for third-party lobbyists, such as PR firms, only.
They said the plan would “do nothing to improve transparency”.
Instead, the MPs said, regulation should be brought in to cover all those who lobby professionally.
Action on lobbying was promised in the coalition agreement to deal with what David Cameron has called “the next big scandal waiting to happen” at Westminster
In January this year, the government set out plans to register only those “who undertake lobby activities on behalf of a third-party client”.
In a report, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said they had seen “no evidence to suggest that third-party lobbyists are a particular problem within the lobbying community – indeed the Government’s own records of ministerial meetings suggest that third-party lobbyists make up less than 1% of all meetings with ministers”.
The Committee said that whilst it was not in favour of having no regulation of lobbyists, this would be preferable to current government proposals.
They added: “The proposals single out third-party lobbyists in an attempt to create a narrow focus for a register that will meet a coalition pledge, but do little to improve transparency about lobbying.
“The committee recommends that the government scraps its plans to introduce a statutory register of third-party lobbyists, and instead introduce regulation to cover all those who lobby professionally, in a paid role, including those who lobby on behalf, of charities, trade unions, and think tanks.”
Labour committee member Paul Flynn told the BBC’s Daily Politics that the government’s plan “only scratches the surface and let’s 95% of lobbyists off the hook”.
He said policies were “being corrupted by the influence of lobbyists” and there was support from all parties for a more wide-ranging register.
“The lobbyists who gave evidence to us, as well as the people interested in transparency all said the same thing: That we must have a root and branch of lobbying or we’ll continue to have a government that’s up for sale,” he added.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said the government would provide a detailed response to the committee’s report “in due course”.
The spokesman added: “Lobbying has an important role in the policy-making process, ensuring that ministers and senior officials hear a full range of views from those who will be affected by government decisions. But it must be conducted in a transparent and open way.
“The coalition government is committed to introducing a statutory register of lobbyists. We will publish a draft bill and White Paper during this session of Parliament, and the committee’s work will be important as we consider our approach, alongside the responses we received to the consultation that ended in April.”
TUC head of campaigns and communications Nigel Stanley said:
“Ministers and others should be far more open about who they meet, what was discussed and the purpose of the meeting.
“While we have no principled objection to registers that include everyone seeking to influence government, we still doubt how practical it will be to divide the staff of organisations such as the TUC into those who lobby and those who don’t.
“But, as we support openness, we are happy to work on ways to take the committee’s suggestions further.”
Rumour has it that there maybe a cross party consensus that lobbyist would need to register as a result of a new procedure that may or may not come into force.
The question is how will the coalition do it. Is it a case of getting rid of the influence of the trade unions or making it so impossible to curry favour to any political parties.
Let us not fool ourselves to think this coalition is doing the honourable thing it’s far from this. I would respect the coalition if they say that Labour is influenced by the trade unions. Let us not forget that the Tories are heavily funded by a few bankers and possible millionaires compared to Labour and the only possible reason for this is to reducing the civil and human rights of workers and voters to appease the few and not the many.
Granted there needs to be some form of order to lobbyist. If it was not for them we would not have enjoyed to a family life, workers rights, welfare state, NHS Freedom of expression, the right to representation and freedom of movement that we enjoy today.
Ask yourselves this is it big business in the USA and how affective have they have been. I’m not against lobbyists or fund-raisers but what I’m against is when there is not accountability like many of us we would like to see this happening but not at the expense of the continuation of hiding behind the so-called big society when the coalition gets into a rut.
I recall that in the UK that the biggest lobbying group in the UK is the tobacco lobby groups. Let’s start to compare other Lobby groups which relatively small in the UK which does not have any form of funding but relies on donations lobby groups like the Movement For Change, and Labour Left both a very relatively new groups in the UK both started from the grass-roots of community based when the reform comes into force its groups like those who relies on donations which are heavily penalised.
Then there is other groups like Birmingham Racial Attacks Monitoring Unit(BRAMU) that does case work in monitoring hate crimes and reports to the home office of their finding suddenly had its funding pulled because of two folds both previous and present governments felt it was not necessary for voluntary organisations that are best to support the Home Office and police forces its organisations that can best help the Home Office, Police Forces, the Police Federation and city councils to reduce hate crimes. Yet they depend on funding and donations to keep them going.
I concur that there should be tight regulations on openness and accountability for all and not the few as proposed by the coalition. I suspect there is no more than 1.5 percent of the lobby groups and Think-tanks that makes money out of lobbying professionally.
Oh lets not forget the wise words of David Cameron when he said:
How Cameron the crusader against lobbying plunged his snout so deeply into the trough, all you csn see of him are the soles of his Gucci shoes.
In February 2010 in opposition Cameron said:
“I believe that secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money, and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest”.
In March 2010, several Members of Parliament were recorded expressing a willingness to use their contacts to lobby Government and Parliament, and were subsequently suspended from Parliament for varying periods on the recommendation of the Standards and Privileges Committee.
In October 2011, the Defence Secretary Liam Fox resigned when it was alleged that he had breached the Ministerial Code. An investigation conducted by the then Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell concluded that Liam Fox had breached the Ministerial Code.
In December 2011 Bell Pottinger, a lobbying firm, were filmed boasting that they had direct access to the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers
In March 2012, Peter Cruddas, the co-treasurer of the Conservative Party was filmed apparently offering access to the Prime Minister in return for donations. He later resigned.
In April 2012 it was revealed that Frederic Michel, an in-house lobbyist for News Corporation, had been in regular communication with officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, including sending texts to the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, during the consideration of News International’s bid for BSkyB. Adam Smith, special adviser to the Secretary of State, resig.
So the whole moral from this is”We need no lector from the coalition.