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Call to set up lobbyists' register

The Government should set up a register of Parliamentary lobbyists following the latest claims about firms' influences on ministers, MPs have been told.

Labour MP John Cryer demanded a list of bodies which try to develop or change policies "for commercial gain", detailing how much they spent.

Mr Cryer said: "Britain has a £2 billion lobbying industry and there is a very strong mood among the public to make lobbying more transparent and accountable."

The Leyton and Wanstead MP's call came on the day new fears were raised about lobbyists' influence on ministers.

Undercover reporters from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, posing as agents of the government of Uzbekistan, secretly recorded conversations with Tim Collins, managing director of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs.

Former Tory MP Mr Collins boasted about his access to Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne, Mr Cameron's policy chief Steve Hilton and Downing Street chief of staff Ed Llewellyn. A No 10 spokesman later said it was "simply untrue" that lobbyists could set policy agendas.

But unveiling his Registration of Commercial Lobbying Interests motion under the Commons' ten-minute rule, Mr Cryer told MPs the denial meant "all those former MPs who are now lobbyists, all those former lobbyists who are now MPs and all those full-time lobbyists have wasted their time all these years - they've had absolutely no affect on Government policy".

He added: "The idea is pretty difficult to stomach that large corporations, multinational companies and big banks hire big lobbying firms in order to exercise influence at the heart of Government and it has absolutely no consequence whatsoever. The reality is this Government is very close to vested interests in the City, big corporate interests and big business."

He denied his plan would block "ordinary lobbyists", including "the ordinary constituent, a company, co-operative, trade unionist or residents' association", from lobbying MPs.

But Tory MP for Shipley Philip Davies branded the plan "typical of Labour's nanny-state bureaucracy".


From Belfast Telegraph