Neill Committee - Draper calls for access controls

Derek Draper, disgraced lobbyist and former aide to Peter Mandelson, has called for a two-year cooling-off period to be imposed on lobbyists before they can enter government as special advisers.

Derek Draper, disgraced lobbyist and former aide to Peter

Mandelson, has called for a two-year cooling-off period to be imposed on

lobbyists before they can enter government as special advisers.



Speaking at the Neill Committee on Standards in Public Life’s

investigation into lobbyists, Draper rounded on his former profession,

suggesting that its practitioners should be subject to the most

stringent regulations.



He said that as well as a cooling-off period for lobbyists entering

government, special advisers should wait two years before joining

lobbying agencies.



Two years is the maximum period senior civil servants and ministers, who

are more senior than special advisers, have to wait before moving into

industries related to their government jobs.



’If you choose to be a lobbyist you forego the right to slip into

government six months later and vice versa,’ Draper said. He added that

his former employer, lobbying agency GPC, would have paid a ’huge

salary’ to any former special adviser leaving government because of the

extra business they might attract.



Draper called for a statutory registration scheme that would clearly

identify lobbyists, whether they worked in agencies or for law firms,

for example. He said City law firms regularly carry out lobbying

activity.



He also suggested the introduction of a log book to record contacts

between lobbyists, ministers and advisers which would act as ’an

insurance against allegations of untoward behaviour’.



He believed the relationship between the Government and lobbying

agencies was still too close for comfort. ’The intertwining of New

Labour and lobbyists should be separated out because it does not seem

very much has changed since a year ago,’ he said.



P The increasing number of politically-appointed special advisers has

relieved the burden on Government Information and Communication Service

staff, according to GICS head Mike Granatt. Giving evidence to the Neill

Committee on Standards in Public Life last week, Granatt argued that

politically sensitive work could now be farmed out to special advisers,

thereby preserving the neutrality of GICS information officers. He said:

’The special adviser is able to act in a political way that the civil

service finds difficult.



It’s brought some clarity and takes some of the risk from civil service

positions, so GICS information officers don’t find themselves under

political pressure.’



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