Lobbying bill is 'a dog's breakfast' claims political reform chairman

The Government should postpone what is 'a dog's breakfast' of a lobbying bill, according to the Labour chair of the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.

Graham Allen: Labour chair of Political and Constitutional Reform Committee
Graham Allen: Labour chair of Political and Constitutional Reform Committee

Graham Allen MP told The Independent: ‘The new lobbying law is rushed and ridiculous. Instead of addressing the Prime Minister’s promise "to shine the light of transparency" on lobbying, this flawed legislation will mean we’ll all be back in a year facing another scandal. It is a dog’s breakfast.

‘The best way forward is to postpone and re-evaluate what is needed.’

Allen’s comments come before the bill receives its second reading in the Commons on 2 September and the Political and Constitutional Reform committee takes oral evidence on the bill on 29 August and 3 September.

Among those set to give evidence on 29 August are the heads of three PR industry trade bodies that have allied in a so far unsuccessful attempt to convince the Government that the bill should cover all professional lobbyists rather than just consultant lobbyists.

The APPC, CIPR and PRCA have already submitted written evidence to the committee criticising the bill.

The PRCA called it ‘unfit for purpose’, while the APPC argued that it illustrated a ‘failure by Government to understand what most third party lobbyists actually do, which is, almost invariably, to advise their clients on how to lobby, rather than to lobby themselves’.

The Labour Party wants the bill to cover all professional lobbyists and has indicated it will table such an amendment in the Commons debate at its second reading.

The bill also includes a number of restrictions on third party funding of election campaigns, which are seen as a potential limit on the ability of trade unions to support Labour.

The committee will hear from:

29 August

10am

Iain Anderson, deputy chair, Association of Professional Political Consultants
Jane Wilson, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Francis Ingham, director general, Public Relations Consultants Association
George Kidd, acting chair, UK Public Affairs Council

11.30am

Tamasin Cave, Spinwatch/Alliance for Lobbying Transparency
Alexandra Runswick, Unlock Democracy

2pm

Nigel Stanley, head of campaigns and communications, Trades Union Congress

2.30pm

Karl Wilding, director of public policy, National Council for Voluntary Organisations

3pm

Kevin Barron MP

3 September

10am

Jenny Watson, chair, Electoral Commission

11.15am

Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP, Leader of the House

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