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“The Citizen can have confidence in the information in the Register” said the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, at her annual stakeholder event. “It provides more transparency about our democratic process and seems to me to be a positive step on a journey”.
The Registrar, Alison White, was speaking at the end of her keynote address at her annual engagement event for stakeholders, held in central London on 8 February. The conference had previously been joined (by video) by the Minister, Chris Skidmore MP and the Scottish Lobbying Registrar, Billy McLaren, who spoke about his plans to implement his own register north of the border.
Earlier in the day, Alison had chaired a working session for compliance officers and those that interact with the Register at a working level, as part of her education programme to improve the quality and accuracy of information in the Register.
During her keynote address, Alison referenced a small growth in the number of registrants up to 123, including lawyers, accountants and a think tank. She spoke of her work to ensure that all those that needed to register, do so, and her plans to issue specialist guidance for those organisations providing support services for All-Party Parliamentary Groups, and to provide further clarity about what constitutes a relevant code of conduct.
Alison pointed out a number of administrative errors identified from her work with registrants, including the problem of “over-declaration” of clients, where registrants “err on the side of caution” in making their declarations. She gave examples of where communications are with a minister’s office or secretary, rather than the minister personally; or where letters are drafted by a consultant lobbyist but signed by their client or briefed for a meeting, which the consultant lobbyist does not attend. None of these situations are registrable. “The legislation does not require ‘transparency’ or ‘erring on the side of caution’ she said.”
The full text of Alison’s speech can be found here.