Grand alliance of unions and lobbyists want Lords to kill Government lobbying bill


A unique alliance of trade unions, professional lobbyists and constitutional reform activists has been formed to pressurise the House of Lords into wrecking the Government’s “flawed” reforms of Britain’s lobbying industry.

The lobbying transparency bill, piloted by Andrew Lansley, was passed by the Commons last week despite almost universal criticism outside Parliament describing it as a “dog’s breakfast”.

However the new alliance, called “1% is not enough”, which will formally launch this week, wants the Lords to recognise the “deep flaws” in the legislation that was supposed to honour David Cameron’s pre-election promise to put an end to lobbying scandals.

Despite last-minute efforts in the Commons to amend the awkwardly named “Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Unions Administration Bill” , the bill will now be scrutinised in the Lords before being passed back to the Commons at the end of this month.

A campaign to be launched on Monday by the TUC, the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) and the Unlock Democracy political pressure group, wants charities, unions, private sector corporations, campaign organizations,  accountants, law firms and other groups to openly support a petition which attacks the lobbying bill as an abject failure that would result in only one percent of all lobbying activity in the UK being registered.

The alliance’s  “1 % is not enough” online petition wants to demonstrate to policy-makers the need for any statutory regime and register to include 100 percent of lobbyists in the UK.

Although the political activities of charities and trade unions have also been limited by the bill – with many charities and voluntary sector groups saying it will have a “chilling effect” on their abilities to operate – the ‘1%’  alliance is targeting its campaigning efforts on the Lords. They want Parliament’s second chamber to effectively reject what the Commons backed, and to demand an authoritative register for the UK’s £2bn lobbying industry is delivered.

Iain Anderson, deputy chair of the APPC, and head of the Cicero political consultancy, told The Independent ahead of the alliance’s launch: “It’s crucial that the Lords look afresh at this piece of legislation in a way that their colleagues in the Commons have not. Not a single amendment widening the scope of this bill to include all lobbyists was passed in the Commons.”

Chloe Smith, the former Cabinet Office minister, had been in charge of the lobbying bill prior to Mr Lansley taking charge just over three months ago. Neither of the two Conservative ministers consulted leading lobbying bosses or the industry itself during more than 18 months of claimed preparation. Ms Smith left the Government last week.

Mr Anderson added: “In order to be effective this bill must ensure all professional lobbyists sign up to a new register, not a tiny minority as the Government envisage.”

The involvement of the TUC on the left, working alongside professional lobbyists generally regarded as right-leaning, demonstrates a consensus and unity on the damaging impact Lansley’s bill holds.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said : “We need more openness and debate about how we are governed. This bad bill does the opposite, excluding most lobbyists and hobbling free speech. The government should withdraw it and start again, proceeding through consultation and consensus building to create rules that both work in practice and command wide support.”

The TUC also believe the bill doesn’t go far enough because it fails to enforce any legally  robust declaration of who lobbyists meet, and therefore lacks any claim to transparency.

Nigel Stanley, the TUC head of campaigns, said parts of the bill simple read “Let’s have a go at the trade unions’ adding “It is tainted with party politics, has unnecessary regulatory burdens covered by what the TUC already does. Essentially it is legislation that should go the same way as Chloe Smith.”

Alexandra Runswick, director of Unlock Democracy, said the bill was “One of the worst drafted pieces of legislation ever to have left Whitehall.”

She added : “The government is behaving recklessly by pushing forward with a bill which would make lobbying in the UK less transparent. As it stands, to paraphrase the Prime Minister, “this bill is the next big scandal waiting to happen.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada