Today the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency are co-launching a petition endorsed by a group of transparency and civil society organisations, asking the UK government to rewrite the lobbying bill to give citizens a proper register of lobbyists in the UK
As we’ve written about before, the lobbying register proposed in the Lobbying Bill (which is currently going through parliament) only covers a small portion of the UK’s £2 billion influence industry. We think this needs to change and call on the government to rewrite the bill to address this. The full text of the petition is copied below, and you can sign up here.
If you’re interested in improving lobbying transparency in your country, you can also join our recently launched global lobbying transparency working group, co-convened with our friends at the Sunlight Foundation.
If you agree with us that citizens should be able to see who is trying to influence government decisions and to what end, please do sign and help us to share the petition to your friends and colleagues:
STOP SECRET CORPORATE LOBBYING
The government is poised to let corporate lobbyists off the hook: we have just weeks to stop them. Having been slammed for proposals that unfairly cracked down on charities, the government is now trying to pass a watered down ‘register of lobbyists’, which would do nothing to stop the malign influence of big corporations over our political system.
For a truly democratic result, all lobbyists must be obliged to say who they’re meeting, what decisions they are seeking to influence and how much they are spending. If the government is serious about rebuilding public trust, it must rewrite its proposals for a lobbying register now, and keep its promise to citizens.
Why is this important?
The UK has a £2 billion commercial lobbying industry – the third largest in the world – that is embedded in our political system. But the government’s current proposal would exclude the vast majority of commercial lobbyists and give the rest an easy ride. The new rules would apply to as little as 5% of all lobbying activity, and those they did affect would hardly have to provide any information at all.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg promised they would run the ‘the most open and transparent government in the world’ but they have yet to deliver on their promise to shine a light on secret corporate lobbying, which advances the interests of the few at the expense of the many. This is their last chance to propose a register that covers all lobbyists and includes meaningful information about their activities.
This petition is coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and endorsed by Access Info, the Campaign for Freedom of Information, Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, Corporate Europe Observatory, Corporate Watch, Greenpeace, Spinwatch, the Sunlight Foundation, Unlock Democracy and War on Want. If your organisation would like to endorse the petition, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.