Evidence on Parliamentary lobbying, 1990

The following evidence was given to the House of Commons Select Committee on Members’ Interests in May 1990 and printed with its Third Report of Session 1990-91, HC 586, Parliamentary Lobbying, as Appendix 1 (p 1). See also memoranda of May 1998 and oral evidence of 14 June 1998. See copyright notice below.

Memorandum from Dr Michael Rush, University of Exeter

1 May 1990

Thank you for sending me the press notice regarding the revised terms of reference agreed by the Select Committee on Members’ Interests. I have consulted my colleagues, who gave evidence to the Committee, and members of the Study of Parliament Group’s Study Group on Parliament and Pressure Groups. We do not see need to give further evidence to the Committee, but, we would wish to reiterate several of the points we made in our evidence, particularly those concerning a Register of Lobbyists.

1. The purpose of the Register needs to be clear. In particular, it must be decided whether it is solely to provide information or whether it is part of a wider attempt to control lobbying and lobbyists.

2. Particular consideration needs to be given to the question of who would be required to register. In particular, would the Register be confined to professional lobbyists or would it include all organisations who might wish to lobby Parliament? If the Register is confined to professional lobbyists, how are these to be defined?

3. What information would lobbyists be required to provide? In particular, in the case of professional lobbyists would it include clients?

4. What arrangements would be made to keep the Register up-to-date, especially if the names of clients had to be provided?

5. Who would have access to the Register? In particular, would access be restricted, as is the case with the existing Registers on Members’ secretaries and research assistants, on journalists, and on All-Party Groups, or would it be published, as is the case with the current Members’ Register?

6. Perhaps the most important question, would registration confer any rights or privileges? If so, what would be the consequences for those organisations which are not registered?

You may also recall, that in oral evidence, the question of a code of conduct was raised. Again, we would like to draw the Committee’s attention to this proposal. A code of conduct can, of course, be introduced in conjunction with a Register of Lobbyists, or quite independently of such a Register. We envisage that any code of conduct would be applicable to both Members and lobbyists, whether the latter were professional lobbyists or not.

I trust these points are of some assistance to you.

© 1990, Michael Rush.

Prepared by Simon Patrick, 26 June 2001