Submission to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: Post-legislative scrutiny of the Lobbying Act 2014 inquiry, September 2023

12 September, 2023 | 1 minute read

Spotlight reiterates the recommendations in its previous written evidence that have not
yet been implemented by the government. In addition, and in light of the government’s
response to the reports by CSPL, PACAC and Boardman, Spotlight recommends that the

a. Publish a timeline for the development, deployment and adoption of a single
database where all departmental transparency returns will be published; and for
when the government will move departments’ transparency publications from a
quarterly to a monthly basis.

b. Reconsider its response to the recommendations from CSPL and Boardman to widen
the application of transparency obligations to include special advisers, given the view
of independent bodies that special advisers play a crucial role in formulating
government policy and influencing ministers.

c. Reconsider its response to Boardman’s recommendations for improving
accountability for departmental transparency returns, in order to increase
compliance and standards.

d. Implement the Information Commissioner’s recommendation, made in July 2022, for
a “strategic review into how different, non-corporate communication channels are
being used across Government”, including whether the UK should introduce a ‘duty
to document’.

e. Close the loophole by which informal lobbying is not disclosed in departments’
transparency releases, by including within scope any instant messaging, virtual
meetings, phone calls and emails when the representations to government are
“serious, premeditated, and credible, or are given substantive consideration by
ministers, special advisers or senior civil servants”.

f. Widen the scope of the register of consultant lobbyists to address key loopholes, and
reconsider its opposition to a requirement for registered lobbyists to meet a
statutory code of conduct, and to giving the Registrar of Lobbyists the power to
impose tougher penalties for non-compliance.

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