Public Affairs: Coalition MPs ignore call for transparency

Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs are refusing to throw their weight behind calls for greater transparency around ministerial meetings with lobbyists.

While 17 Labour MPs have signed a parliamentary motion calling for unprecedented levels of transparency, not a single Tory nor Lib Dem MP is on board.

Early Day Motion 2261 was tabled more than a month ago by Labour backbencher Michael Meacher. It says the planned statutory register of lobbyists should do more than force lobbying consultancies to disclose their clients.

The motion calls on the Government to require that 'all ministerial meetings with lobbyists are logged on an open public register, including the topics discussed at those meetings, the organisation that the lobbyists represent and who ultimately funds them'.

Public affairs professionals argue that declaring all contact between lobbyists and ministers would hinder the policy-making process, as ministers could be scared off from holding vital meetings.

As PRWeek went to press, the controversial motion had been signed by 20 MPs, including two from Welsh and Scottish nationalist parties.

The lack of Lib Dem signatures belies the fact that the party has long been in favour of regulating lobbying. In its 2010 manifesto, the party also pledged to 'curb the improper influence of lobbyists by ... requiring companies to declare how much they spend on lobbying in their annual reports'.

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