CIPR Report Finds MPs Not Taking Lobbying Problems Seriously Enough
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has said that MPs are not taking problems with lobbying seriously enough. A report by the CIPR found that little has been done to strengthen laws on lobbying, thanks to MPs not consistently highlighting the issue. The report’s analysis showed that only a quarter of MPs had mentioned lobbying since the last general election, with interest spiking after major scandals and then dying down again to just nine mentions a month.
The report found that many of these mentions of lobbying are buried in other concerns such as procurement or second jobs, while 14% are focused on lobbying by foreign governments rather than domestic interests.
- Alastair McCapra, the chief executive of CIPR, described the findings of the report as "incredibly depressing".
- The CIPR is campaigning for the reform of the Lobbying Act passed in 2014, with the aim of improving standards and transparency.
- According to the CIPR, the Lobbying Act has flaws, and unethical lobbying has been left to flourish largely unchecked due to the infrequent publication of other transparency documents such as registers of interests.
The CIPR added that lobbying scandals undermined faith in democracy, with a poll finding that 46% thought lobbying laws were too weak and 71% saying scandals had left them less confident in the political system. The CIPR report comes after Parliament’s standards commissioner opened an investigation into Blackpool South MP Scott Benton, who was filmed offering to lobby ministers in exchange for money from people he believed to be gambling investors.
The CIPR hopes to raise the profile of its campaign to reform lobbying laws with an event in Parliament. Alastair McCapra, the chief executive of CIPR, called on MPs to focus on lobbying as a key issue that will determine whether the door to public trust is ever opened. He added that reform must not be endlessly kicked down the road, and that MPs need to start discussing the issue.
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