Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:41 pm on 3rd September 2013.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 1:41 pm, 3rd September 2013

I will give way in due course to the hon. Gentleman, but I am in full flow making a particular point. If he will let me finish it, I will come back to him.

The current Minister in the Cabinet Office stated earlier this year:

“Cabinet Office Ministers have had no meetings with interested parties on the Government's plans for a proposed statutory register of lobbyists since September 2012.”—[Hansard, 26 March 2013; Vol. 560, c. 1057W.]

The hon. Lady appears to be completely unperturbed by her lack of consultation and engagement on these important matters.

The Leader of the House has regularly praised the work of Select Committees since the Wright reforms were implemented, and claimed the credit for their increasing power and influence. Why, then, has he chosen to ignore the impressive piece of work on lobbying done by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, which his Government have had in their in-tray for nearly a year? We had an apology from the right hon. Gentleman today, but does he really think that a two-paragraph response from the Government after this Bill was published is the way his Government should treat a serious piece of work by a well-respected Select Committee? He can hardly be surprised that the Committee believes that the Government have shown

“a lack of respect for Parliament and for the many people who contributed to our inquiry.”

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee is so concerned about the Bill that it has been forced to hold emergency hearings during the recess. The right hon. Gentleman gave evidence to the Committee this morning. The Chair of the Committee, my hon. Friend Mr Allen, spoke for many in this House, I know, when he said last week that the proposals on lobbying in the Bill amount to a “dog’s breakfast”. Mr Carswell, who I see in his place, immediately objected to the use of the term “dog’s breakfast” because in his words,

“Far more thought has gone into pet nutrition than into this Bill.”

As a Member whose constituency once contained a Spillers dog biscuit factory, I can tell the hon. Gentleman from my own personal experience of pet nutrition that he is absolutely right.