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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Government needs to rethink register of lobbyists

Nick Clegg recently made it clear that it was the Conservatives that were blocking the proper regulation of lobyists at Westminster so in a way, it is poetic justice that it is one of their own who has been caught in the latest sting.

The Telegraph say that the revelation that Patrick Mercer offered a bogus lobbyist a security card giving them unfettered access to the Houses of Parliament is likely to prompt a review of the system of granting passes to lobbyists. And so it should.

But that does not go far enough. The influence exercised by these lobbyists is immense. They have large budgets to throw at MPs so as to get their own way. That does not mean that the sort of abuse that Mercer is accused of is commonplace. I do not believe it is. But there are more subtle influences including briefings, receptions and fact-finding trips that although legitimate, help to influence legislators.

It is time to revisit regulation in Westminster to ensure that this merry-go-round is more transparent and accountable. And yes the national Parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need to follow suit.

It is also time to dust off the recall procedure so that MPs who are found guilty of wrong-doing can be forced to face their electorate if enough voters demand it.
Patently a mess - and ur right, there needs to be new rules governing lobbyists.
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