My MP’s response on lobbying, with my preface.

I am not convinced by the phrase “Lobbying is a normal and essential part of an active democracy.” but somehow MP’s have persuaded themselves that this is true.

OK! Charities and businesses need to present their case to Parliament and Parliament needs an input from them.

That does not mean that my MP should be representing, or merely presenting, the views of an organisation, instead of mine.

In fact their views may be contrary to the best interests of those who voted for her.

This applies generally to all MP’s, who in this “Democracy” are supposed to represent the interests of the plebiscite, NOT those of vested interests, who may not even be domestically based.

An alternate means of achieving an input into Parliamentary decision making needs to be found.

If the upper chamber is to be unelected, let them be sponsored by these vested interests, as was their historical role. Better still, let’s have select committee’s filter and distil these representations and present them as reports, available for reference by individual MP’s, who solely represent their constituents.

Anything, other than through MP’s.

If by chance an MP has a vested interest then this should be declared, in the HoC, when standing to speak.

If it is found later that an MP has neglected this duty then he/she should be subject to strong reprisal with no mitigation allowed.

This is the only way to rid Parliament of corruption.

The proposed lobbying measures, referred to, in the following letter, will not end the corruption.

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding lobbying and the Government’s current proposals for a register of lobbyists.

Lobbying is a normal and essential part of an active democracy.

However, as a number of recent scandals have shown, it is clear that the professional sector of the lobbying industry needs to be properly regulated and I agree it is important that lobbyists operate in a transparent way so that everyone can see how and why decisions are taken.

That is why I support calls for real lobbying reform and would like to see the introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists, a code of conduct backed by sanctions and measures to ensure that anyone doing a senior job for the government of the day who is a professional lobbyist must be declared.

This would make the whole lobbying system much more transparent and help restore public trust.

The Government have failed to take any action on this for three years but have now finally published a Bill — the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill — which is currently being considered by a House of Commons Select Committee and is scheduled to be debated in the House of Commons after the summer recess.

It is clear, however, that the Government’s Bill includes totally inadequate proposals which will only apply to a tiny proportion of the lobbying industry. Indeed, the Government’s proposals would establish a register only covering third party lobbyists — who make up just 1% of all ministerial meetings and less than a quarter of the whole industry. This could mean for example, that lobbyists working directly for big business groups would not be required to register.

I know that organisations such as the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) and Unlock Democracy have also expressed serious concern that the Government’s Bill will not bring about the wide-ranging reform of lobbying that is needed to regain public trust and help clean up politics.

This is a real opportunity for Parliament to bring about much-needed changes to lobbying and it is vital that Parliament is now able to scrutinise and improve the Government’s Bill. I can assure you that I will be supporting amendments to the Bill as it progresses through Parliament to make it more effective and to ensure that it tackles this very serious problem.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views. I can assure you that I will continue to bear them in mind as this issue develops.

Yours sincerely

Yvonne Fovargue

Labour Member for Makerfield


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