Lobbyists and campaigners unite in support for crackdown on lobbying Lords

Public affairs professionals and campaigners for greater transparency in lobbying have both backed a new code of conduct for the House of Lords.

Crackdown: House of Lords
Crackdown: House of Lords

A group of Lords last week proposed that peers should be banned from paid lobbying as part of a package of measures aimed at ending a culture of 'peers for hire'.

Lords officials say eight peers are paid for parliamentary consultancies and face having to end their employment by spring when the new rules are likely to be adopted.The Government wil come under pressure to back such a ban once the House of Lords has debated the proposals on 30 November.
 
David Miller of SpinWatch said: 'It is obvious that the ban on Parliamentarians acting as lobbyists must now extend to the House of Commons. Public trust relies on knowing that MPs and Lords are acting in the public interest.'

Robbie MacDuff, chair of the Association of Professional Political Consultants, said: 'Our view on this is very simple: Parliamentarians should not be paid lobbyists.'

The ban was called for by an independent inquiry by a special cross-party group under the chairmanship of the former Archbishop of Armagh, crossbencher Lord Eames.
 
Though peers are not paid and are entitled to take outside employment, Eames proposes a ban on 'parliamentary consultancies' and peers accepting advice on 'how to lobby or otherwise influence Parliament'.

The report also called for peers paid for non-parliamentary public affairs consultancies to declare their clients.

The repspected lobbying consultant and former CIPR president Lionel Zetter said: 'There is little doubt that the regime in the House of Lords will gradually be tightened.

'Some peers may simply switch their focus from PA to PR. Others, however, will probably decide that it is not worth the hassle and the scrutiny, and may decide to "retire". Even if they don't, their employers may equally decide that their value is outweighed by the potential negative coverage.

'There is, however, still a lon way to go. If the Tories genuinely want to reform the Lords – which they do – then in the short term they are not going to be looking to upset any peers.'

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