UK lobbying response

11 Apr 2012


  • The SWA should not be required to sign up to the lobbying register, given that we do not represent a third party and that it is transparent whose interests we represent when meeting with Ministers or Government Officials.
  • The SWA notes the Government's desire for increased transparency with regard to meetings with Ministers and Government Officials and commitment to a register that covers third party lobby firms. 
  • We believe that the register should not be extended to cover all organisations that have dealings with the Government.


The SWA agrees with the definition of lobbying provided and that the 'essential flow of communication between business leaders and Government' should not be included, albeit it is not clear what that means or whether it will in some way be defined. The register should only cover third party lobbyists.


The proposals included in this consultation state that the aim of the register is to provide clarity regarding who is meeting with Government departments and Ministers and that only organisations who act for a third party will be required to sign up to the register.

The SWA agrees with this definition and believes that clarity surrounding who is meeting Government Officials and Ministers could increase transparency and faith in the decision-making process.

When Government departments publish details of external meetings, there is no doubt as to the subject matter discussed when the SWA is included on such a list. This is the case for many organisations and we therefore believe that there is no need to extend the register to cover all companies that have dealings with the Government. Such a move would be unnecessary given that external meetings are already published by Government departments. A move to require all lobbyists to complete a register, especially where it is obvious whose interest they represent, would be contradictory to the Government's commitment to reduce burden on businesses.

In its desire to introduce a lobbying register, the Government should be aware of unintended consequences and the drawing up of what is regarded as lobbying.  For example, it could be difficult to quantify what percentage of a person's time would be classed as lobbying, (ie a Distillery Manager taking a Minister round a plant for example). The register should remain for third party representatives only.

Further questions

This response does not provide details on the issues surrounding: information to be included in the register, frequency of returns, additional functions, funding and sanctions, given that the transparency of the SWA's activity is such that it should not be required to be part of the register. However, we would underline the need for the cost and administrative burden associated be kept to an absolute minimum to avoid the register acting as a barrier to participation in the political process. 

Should the Government change its approach and extend the register to include in-house lobbyists we believe a further consultation will be necessary to fully understand issues impacting on this group that the Government has indicated it does not intend any register to cover.