Conservative Party sets out its stall on lobbying transparency

The Conservatives have said that public affairs firms should publish all client lists and their full-time and part-time staff.

Shadow minister for the cabinet office: Francis Maude
Shadow minister for the cabinet office: Francis Maude

Shadow minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude warned last night that if this is not undertaken across the public affairs industry by a process of self-regulation, then the industry runs risk of incurring the full weight of law to make it happen.

The Tories also criticised the Government for failing to respond to the public administration select committee report on lobbying, which was published back in January.

Maude told journalists: ‘The silence of Labour ministers on lobbying is deafening - and it is a clear breach of Parliamentary protocol to fail to respond to a select committee report for so long.'

He added: ‘Greater openness and transparency is needed to help ensure high standards in public life. If the industry fails to self-regulate, it should be prepared for legislation which will ensure greater accountability.'

A Tory spokesman confirmed that the party wanted to see all agencies publishing client lists and staff names. The move is the first time the Tories have demanded full transparency from all lobbying firms.

Currently, only consultancies that are members of the Association for Professional Political Consultants (APPC) or the PRCA publish their full client lists on a regular basis. Maude's comments are likely to be met with criticism from consultancies such as Bell Pottinger Public Affairs and Luther Pendragon, which refuse to join the APPC or the PRCA.

Maude also returned to the Conservatives' more familiar theme of clamping down on public sector bodies hiring lobbyists. He said: ‘The wasteful expenditure of government agencies on public affairs must be stopped. This is needed not just to save taxpayers' money, but also to remove the damaging bias in our political system in favour of ever more spending and interference by quangos.'

In addition, the Tories will demand greater transparency from legal firms with lobbying arms.  A Tory spokesman said: ‘The Solicitors' Code of Conduct should also be amended so solicitors' firms who engage in public affairs work can disclose their lobbying clients without breaching that code. So-called lawyer-lobbyists include firms such as DLA Piper.'



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