Home > Lobbying > Transparency, ministers and outside groups

Transparency, ministers and outside groups

In October the government rejected calls for a legally mandated register of lobbyists and concluded ‘that effective voluntary self-regulation must be the preferred approach.’ That response is unsurprising, and the chances of anything being agreed prior to an election seemed slim in any event.

However, in the report there is an important step towards greater transparency. The government agreed that departments will publish on their websites ‘information about ministerial meetings with outside interest groups’ on a quarterly basis from October 1.

Under an old version of the Ministerial Code, ministers were required  to record meetings with outside groups. That record could then be requested through the Freedom of Information Act. However, when the new Code was drafted in 2007, that requirement was omitted – and it was unclear whether a step backwards had been taken.

The commitment to publishing these details goes beyond the old approach and will release the information without the need for a FoI request. How far it sheds any light on lobbying will depend on what constitutes a ‘meeting’ and just how much detail the record includes – whether it reveals the interests being represented and the topic of discussion. This will be seen when the quarterly reports come out in the next month.

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Categories: Lobbying

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