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
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
News
i100
Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect