Temple-Morris calls for all-party group purge

Lobbying firms should be banned from holding secretariat positions on all-party parliamentary groups, according to Peter Temple-Morris, Labour MP and chairman of three all-party groups.

Lobbying firms should be banned from holding secretariat positions

on all-party parliamentary groups, according to Peter Temple-Morris,

Labour MP and chairman of three all-party groups.



Giving evidence on Monday at the Neill Committee on Standards in Public

Life, Temple-Morris said private sector sponsorship and staffing of

all-party groups ’should be stopped’ because MPs’ impartiality could be

compromised.



Associate all-party groups, which encourage contact between MPs and

peers and third parties in industry and the voluntary sector, are often

set up by lobbying and PR agencies on behalf of their clients. These

companies then enlist MPs with interests in the area, in order to

encourage them to raise issues in parliament.



However, under these circumstances a ’closed shop’ can operate. Industry

rivals can be denied access, resulting in the agenda being tipped in

favour of the sponsors.



Lists of members do not have to be published. Lobbying firms which run

associate all-party groups include Shandwick, which runs the group for

the Bar, and Citigate Westminster, which administers the motorcycle

group.



David Varney, chief executive of BG, called for ’greater transparency’

in the funding of all-party groups. He suggested each group should have

trustees who would collect money, with a separate group of people

deciding what is done with the money, ’so the agenda of all-party groups

is not unduly influenced’.



At Thursday’s hearing the Association of Professional Political

Consultants and the PRCA were due to claim that a total ban on lobbyists

and industry representatives holding secretariat positions on all-party

groups would be impractical and would lead to a decrease in the number

of such groups.



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