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Commons ranks last on lobbying transparency

New report reveals 39 loopholes in the UK’s lobbying regulations

The House of Commons has the weakest lobbying transparency rules compared to other UK political institutions, reveals a Transparency International report published today.
‘Lifting the Lid on Lobbying: The Hidden Exercise of Power and Influence in the UK’ analyses lobbying policies and practices across UK political institutions, evaluating the gaps in the rules that allow hidden lobbying and open the door to corruption. The research – which looks at Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, and the Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland – reveals that in many recent lobbying scandals, the rules have not been broken.

"We are not saying that lobbying is a bad thing, but it can go badly wrong, allowing democracy to be distorted by those who have the most money and access. At present, UK citizens have little opportunity to understand who is lobbying whom, for what purpose and with what funds.” said Dr Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK.

“Many recent lobbying scandals have largely fallen within the rules, clearly demonstrating that the current regulatory regime is inadequate. It’s curious and confusing that something is permitted in the Lords but not the Commons, and that the devolved assemblies have better rules than Westminster. If politicians are serious about cleaning up politics, they need to close the lobbying loopholes that open the door to corruption.”

Key statistics and recommendations

  • 39 examples of lobbying loopholes across the UK where rules allow behaviour that can open the door to corrupt activity and lobbying abuses
  • 14 major lobbying scandals have emerged since David Cameron stated lobbying was “the next big scandal waiting to happen”
  • £2 Billion – the value of the UK’s lobbying industry, making it the 3rd largest in the world

Transparency International is calling for transparency and integrity standards to be raised and made consistent across the UK. Specifically:

  • More effective transparency on the part of lobbyists
  • Restrictions on political financing.
  • More effective regulation of the revolving door.
  • Mandatory training in ethics and integrity.
  • All UK parliamentary chambers and assemblies should operate to consistently high rules, replacing the current ineffective and confusing patchwork.


1. The UK parliament and assembly rankings for lobbying transparency are as follows:

Image showing rankings

2. Lift the Lid on Lobbying: The Hidden Exercise of Power and Influence in the UK will be available to download at on 8th February

3. Lifting the Lid on Lobbying is part of a Europe-wide project on lobbying standards across 19 European Countries. A country comparative report will be published in March.

4. Co-funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union.

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Philip Jones
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