Press release 13th Apr 2021

Urgent action needed to reform political lobbying and the revolving door

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April 12 2021 - In response to the government’s announcement of an independent inquiry into the lobbying by former Prime Minister David Cameron and the finance company Greensill Capital, Transparency International UK has called for reforms to increase transparency over lobbying and provide improved oversight over the revolving door between government and the private sector.

Steve Goodrich Senior Research Manager at Transparency International UK said: 

“The Greensill saga highlights deep flaws in the UK’s approach to disclosing political access and potential influence. What happens in Westminster remains woefully opaque because neither the statutory lobbying register nor departmental disclosures do what they are supposed to do – show who is trying to influence government, when, how and for what purpose. The UK should follow the US, Canada, Ireland and Scotland, where this information is required from lobbyists by law.”

“We’ve also known for years that there is very little control on the movement of ministers through the revolving door between the public and private sector. As long as the oversight body, ACOBA, is merely advisory and the cooling-off period for former ministers limited to only two years after leaving office, scandals will continue to hit the headlines. Effective regulation of our politicians’ post-public employment requires tougher rules set by a body with real teeth.”

Notes to editors:

Transparency International UK is the UK’s leading independent anti-corruption charity.

We are calling for: 

  • A comprehensive lobbying register that includes in-house lobbyists working for companies, NGOs, charities, trade associations, lawyers, accountants. Over 90% of lobbyists work in-house. The scope of the register should be expanded to include attempts to influence special advisers.

  • Relevant information to be included in the lobbying register - currently it records just the name of the client. It should also identify the purpose of the activity e.g. the policy, bill, regulation or contract they intend to influence; when it took place; who was involved; as well as a good faith estimate of how much money is being spent.

  • The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) should be replaced with a statutory body with sufficient authority and resources to regulate - not just advise on - the post-public employment of former Ministers and crown servants. The period for which the appointments of former Ministers and crown servants in the private sector is regulated should be extended from the current period of two years.