LONDON: The UK's Labour Party is calling for a statutory register that would include all professional lobbyists, a code of conduct, and sanctions.
The party's policy was set Monday night by shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett, speaking at an event hosted in the House of Commons by transparency pressure group Unlock Democracy.
The speech followed the coalition promising to deliver fresh proposals for legislation for a statutory lobbying register before the summer in the wake of a number of media investigations seeking to expose parliamentarians.
Trickett called for legislation to include a clear definition of professional lobbying and a clear code of conduct, of which the first line should be to forbid financial relations between lobbyists and parliamentarians.
He added that sanctions for code breaches should include removal from the register.
Trickett criticized the UK government for delaying a register and “trying to avoid meaningful legislation even now,” as well as highlighting Conservative ties to lobbyists, claiming 82 Tory MPs have declared links to the lobbying industry.
On the industry itself, he said “there is no obligation in Britain for a lobbyist to identify who they are, what they do, the sources of the finance, or who their ultimate client is. The best operate [with] an ethical code. The rest operate in the shadows.”
“It is good to hear Trickett confirm that he will call for a universal register of lobbyists,” said Emily Wallace, chair of the UK Public Relations Consultants Association's public affairs group. “We would be keen to see a political consensus on this, and would welcome cross-party discussions with the industry on how best to introduce a statutory register which promotes greater transparency in lobbying.”
This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister publication of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.