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Baroness Dianne Hayter of Kentish Town, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Speech to Labour amendments 94 and 95, Part

1 of Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 11th November 2013 My Lords, last week, an amendment tabled by the Noble Lord, Lord Rooker, called for the requirement to publish meetings with lobbyists, to be extended from Ministers of the Crown to the Leader of the Opposition, in the 6 months before an election. This is interesting, as it raises the question of those slightly outside the magic circle of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, the lobbying of whom should be disclosed to the public. But, the other side of that coin is whether there are paid lobbyists paid by industry to promote their interests who have the ear of government in a particular close way but who would not be caught by the register rules as: (a) they are not civil servants, and (b) they protest that when they meet, for example, the Prime Minister, they are speaking not on behalf of those clients but about quite different matters: say how to beat the Labour Party or indeed (and the Lib-Dems should be warned) how to beat the Liberal Democrats. So we find that, for the strangest of reasons, meetings that the Prime Minister has with a very well paid lobbyist are not recorded because, it just so happens, they are only to pore over Opinion Polls. Furthermore, despite the PMs promise to lead the most transparent govt ever, we understand that Number 10 has failed to reveal the identity of guests entertained at Chequers. We dont know whether these are lobbyists, mere donors to his party or ordinary friends. But what we do know is that Downing Street has traditionally published an annual list of guests to Chequers in but it has not done so since July 2011. In the context of this Bill, we would clearly be interested to know how many times the lobbyist Lynton Crosby has been at Chequers. What does sound odd is that, after this Bill becomes law, Mr Crosbys lobbying consultancy would have to disclose any such visits, and therefore publish more than the prime minister would have to about such conversations, because Mr Crosby would be defined by Downing Street just as a strategic political advisor. But how easy will it be to make such distinctions with the Bill as it stands? Mr Crosby was hired in November 2012. That month, his lobbying firm signed a contract with Phillip Morris. In December, he allegedly chaired a meeting where he advised tobacco companies about plain packaging. In January, he began working for the Conservative Party. In March, a Senior Whitehall Source told the BBC that Australian-style plain packaging would be introduced here, but surprise surprise in July the plan was dropped. There have been similar questions raised about minimum unit pricing for alcohol. Of course, we have tried to find out the names of Mr Crosbys clients (which would have been disclosed had the government produced this Bill soon after its 2010 promise rather than now, as his lobbyists company being a consultancy would have to register and disclose its clients). As it is, Mr Shapps told the World At One on 17 July It is a matter for Lynton Crosby who his clients within the company are. Because, as the Noble Lord the Minister reiterated to me in a Written

reply to me on 29 July, Mr Lynton Crosby was not employed by the Government (though, as we know, by a lobbying company and by the Conservative Party). In passing, we might note that although the Noble Lord the Minister claims that Part 2 of this bill is aimed at keeping big money out of politics, the Conservative Party can afford to pay Mr Crosby half a million pounds to do his best to return Mr Cameron to Downing Street. Thats big money to me! So this example and there are others raise two significant questions. One is about a possible conflict of interest caused by a lobbyist working on the Conservative Party Leaders political strategy. But there is also a wider point about the revolving door between government and the lobbying industry. Weve just heard about the appointment of a former lobbyist who also was a Conservative campaigns officer to oversee public appointments. This is double jeopardy. The Civil Service Code states Whitehall mandarins should be politically independent. A former Conservative worker doesnt look too independent. Whilst Lobbying Transparency campaigner Tamasin Cave has told the Daily Mirror: Wylds been a lobbyist. This job needs someone impartial. It does not bode well. The Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, in their July 2012 report, also looked at the issue the other way the revolving door between the civil service and the private sector, and urged the Government to adopt a joined up approach to lobbying regulations, and to consider changes to ACoBA alongside lobbying regulations. All of this needs flushing out if the public are really going to be able to see who has the ear of government. And if the Bills objective of increasing transparency is to be achieved. My Lords, our amendments tackle the issue of lobbyists coming into the system, either as civil servants or employed by a governing party, rather than the outward move but both should be of concern in any Bill dealing with the openness and transparency of the lobbying industry. ENDS