Thank you for contacting me about lobbying of MPs and Ministers.
Lobbying allows businesses and industry to discuss their views on policy with legislators. I believe that this is important. Policies pursued by government and opposition parties should be grounded in reality and take into account the needs of businesses, charities and think tanks.
Access to legislators, however, should not be abused. Fairness and transparency must be the keystone of the system. That is why I am glad that the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists (ORCL) was established under new legislation passed in 2014. The role of the ORCL is to keep and maintain a register of lobbyists and ensure that there is transparency in the work of those engaging with government ministers and senior civil servants. Lobbyists are required to declare and publish a list of their clients and this is made available online.
Government departments also publish quarterly reports of any gifts and hospitality received by ministers and their advisers as well as information on meetings and travel. Parliament requires MPs to register financial interests within a month of their election and within 28 days for all subsequent changes. Paid advocacy is strictly forbidden by the Code of Conduct for MPs.
MPs are separately required to declare their interests whenever it could be thought that they may have been influenced in what they say or do. This is required whether or not the interest has been formally registered and includes expected future interests as well as the interests of family members.
The Government is currently undertaking a post-legislative review of Part 1 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 in line with the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption Secretariat. The Act established the statutory register of consultant lobbyists.
The review found that David Cameron 'on occasion understated the nature of his relationship' with Greensill but that the 'current system and those operating within it worked well'. It cited the low take-up of supply chain finance by the Government as evidence that ministers and civil servants did not allow their judgment to be influenced under pressure from the firm. The review also concluded that Mr Cameron did not breach lobbying rules and that this actions were not unlawful. I understand that the Government will respond to the review in due course.
I do not believe that a separate Parliamentary inquiry conducted by a new Parliamentary Committee as proposed by the Opposition Party would have been helpful. It would have duplicated work already being undertaken by the Government. The Government is currently undertaking a post-legislative review of Part 1 of the Lobbying Act 2014 in line with the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption Secretariat. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is also undertaking its own inquiry into Greensill and the Treasury Committee has already concluded its inquiry into the company. It concluded that Mr Cameron 'lacked judgment' but that no rules had been broken.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP