Corporate lobbying will be "the next big scandal", David Cameron presciently warned before he became Prime Minister. A statutory register of lobbyists is needed, he said, to "shine a light of transparency" on the dark corners of parliamentary influence.
He was absolutely right. Except we now learn that the much-delayed register will, in fact, cover only those who work on behalf of third-party clients, less than five per cent of the total. The vast majority of the lobbying industry, those representing the interests of their own employers, are not part of the scheme. Nor are charities or trade unions.
Lobbying is a legitimate part of the political process. But it must be transparent. A system in which 95 per cent of lobbying still takes place behind closed doors is unacceptable.