Public 'being ignored' over lobbying reforms

  • @OliDuggan

The Government has been accused of ignoring the views of more than 1,000 people who responded to a public consultation on its controversial lobbying reforms.

The campaign group Unlock Democracy co-ordinated responses of 1,300 members of the public who used its website to comment on the proposals to introduce new rules for lobbyists. But when the Government recently published its analysis of public opinion on the reforms, they identified 79 individuals who had got in touch.

The omission has led to accusations that the Government has been "playing fast and loose" with the consultation and is more interested in the views of the lobbying industry than the public.

"We were dismayed to find that the contributions of 28 organisations and over a thousand people who had done individual submissions had not been included," said a representative of Unlock Democracy, adding that the summary of responses gave a "fundamentally flawed view of the consultation".

In response, the Cabinet Office claimed it had not ignored the 1,300 people – but for simplicity's sake had grouped them together under Unlock Democracy.

"It is normal practice to summarise overarching themes rather than identify each respondent," they said.

The letter, however, did not explain why it had included the responses from 79 members of the public and not the other 1,221.

The campaign group has had a turbulent history with the Coalition's approach to lobbying reform.

After talks between the two camps last December, the senior civil servant in charge of lobbying tweeted: "I wish Unlock Democracy would die. I'm prepared to help it along." She was later forced to resign.