Lobbying Transparency

Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at on 23 November 2023.

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Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Labour, Hemsworth

What steps he is taking to increase transparency of lobbying by businesses.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The Government outlined wide-ranging improvements to transparency in lobbying in their policy statement “Strengthening Ethics and Integrity in Central Government”, which was published in July. They include revising guidance to widen the range of lobbying engagements declared by Departments, and linked reforms of the consultant lobbying framework.

Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Labour, Hemsworth

If you are one of the tens of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises bidding for contracts from the public sector, you will be met with a wall of bureaucratic paperwork designed to prevent relationships between the contractor and the service provider. If you are an ex-Prime Minister, you can make dozens of phone calls on behalf of an interest in which you seem to have been involved, including nine texts to the current Prime Minister. Is it not clear that that was reprehensible behaviour, and that the lobbying rules allowed it to happen? When will the Minister tighten the lobbying rules properly to prevent people from being able to benefit from the old system of “It is not what you know, but who you know”?

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I refer the hon. Gentleman to my previous answer; we have published a document called “Strengthening Ethics and Integrity in Central Government”.

On small and medium-sized enterprises, I am delighted to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman that the Procurement Act 2023, which recently received Royal Assent, will make life much easier for SMEs that want to do business with the Government and get a share of the £300 billion of public procurement this Government have to offer.