Advisory committee chair reveals 16 officials abandoned lobbying plans

Sixteen former ministers and officials abandoned their plans for lobbying jobs in the final months of Gordon Brown's premiership, after being warned off by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

Advisory committee: Lord Lang [pic: Rex]
Advisory committee: Lord Lang [pic: Rex]

Committee chairman Lord Lang revealed the figure while speaking to the Commons public administration select committee for a one-off evidence session last week.

The committee is an advisory body which scrutinises ex-ministers and civil servants looking to take up lobbying roles. Lord Lang said he was 'not aware' of anyone who had defied the committee by taking a job it had advised against.

Asked by Labour MP Paul Flynn how many people his committee had advised to turn down a job, Lord Lang replied that 'we very rarely advise that'. But he revealed: 'Quite a few are not taken up ...

It is around 16 in the year covered by our last annual report.'

The committee's most recent report covers 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010. Asked what circumstances prompted the U-turns, Lord Lang responded: 'They would be varied, but in some cases it would be because of the terms that we had indicated would be imposed.

In some cases, people do not even get as far as going through the process with us and therefore they would not feature in that number, because they would withdraw or abandon their ideas of taking a particular job sooner than that on the basis of initial information.'

Lord Lang was speaking last week, following the publication of updated rules on former ministers taking lobbying jobs. The new rules ban ministers from taking lobbying jobs within two years of leaving government - up from the previous one year 'cooling off' period. The committee has also seen an extension of its powers to consider special advisers.

Lang said it was important to keep a check on lobbying by special advisers as they are in 'a particularly advantageous position for gaining influence, for networking, for moving around departments and across from one department to another'.

But he added: 'If I have a concern about the new rules ...

there is a category of person that is not covered by them. I am thinking about the new non-executive directors in departments set up by the new Government: tsars; special envoys; taskforce leaders.'

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