Bill against lobbying deals ‘must be tougher’, anti-sleaze watchdog warns

 

A tougher crackdown on lobbying than that planned by the Government is needed to help restore public trust in politics, the anti-sleaze watchdog will warn in a report published today.

The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life expresses concern that the Coalition’s proposed register of third-party lobbyists will not allay people’s fears about “the confluence of money, influence, power and vested interests”.

Its criticism will increase pressure on ministers to beef up the Lobbying Bill during its passage through the Lords, which resumes today. Critics claim only one per cent of lobbyists would be covered by the register.

The anti-sleaze committee calls for:

* Restrictions on former MPs working as lobbyists for two years after leaving Parliament;

* Compulsory “ethics training” for new MPs and peers;

* Tougher rules to prevent a conflict of interest when officials move jobs between government and business, or are on secondment;

* Swift disclosure of the subject of meetings between ministers and outside groups or companies;

* Clearer rules on ex-ministers taking jobs in the private sector;

* Special advisers to ministers to be subject to tighter rules about their contacts with outsiders;

* Gifts and hospitality offered to public servants by lobbyists to be rejected;

* MPs receiving outside payments to be banned from initiating parliamentary proceedings or approaching ministers in the interests of those paying them;

* MPs to disclose family members involved in public-sector lobbying.

Lord (Paul) Bew, the crossbench peer who chairs the committee, called for a “change of culture” in public life.

The committee warns: “Recent individual examples of abuse (real or perceived) have contributed to a growing public cynicism which has led to a lack of trust and confidence in political decision making. Whilst this committee generally welcomes proposals that third-party lobbyists should be obliged to register and disclose the names of the clients on behalf of whom they act, we doubt that a register of third-party lobbyists is the key to reform.”

It warns that “the revolving door” in which people switch from the public to private sector, and secondments between them, raises the risk of potential conflicts of interest.

“Hiring people either permanently or temporarily with contacts or knowledge gained from their time in government or the public sector can be seen as an attempt to buy access and influence,” it says.

There were more than 200 secondments to the Treasury between 2007 and 2011, largely from major accountancy firms, provoking claims that they helped clients to exploit tax loopholes. More than 50 people were seconded to the Department for Energy and Climate Change between 2008 and 2011, including some from energy firms.

Several former MPs have gone on to work for lobbyists, and the committee says: “It is important for public confidence in Parliament to ensure that, during their time in the House, members are not perceived to be influenced in their behaviour by the hope or expectation of future personal gain.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced PPC Search Marketing Executive

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: PR and Press Executive - Beauty

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading cosmetics group is lo...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Applications Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Applications Enginee...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue