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Lobbyists contact with ministers and Members of Parliament is currently regulated through a number of non-statutory codes of conduct. In addition, certain categories of relevant information are routinely published by Government and the House of Commons.

In June 2007 the Public Administration Select Committee launched an inquiry into the lobbying industry. The Committee published their report in January 2009. Their recommendations included a call for a statutory register of lobbying activity to “bring greater transparency to the dealings between Whitehall decision makers and outside interests”.

The Labour Government’s response to the Public Administration Select Committee’s inquiry was published in October 2009. At the time, the Government did not accept the Committee’s case for a statutory register of lobbying activity, but did accept recommendations on some other matters. The Public Administration Select Committee published a follow-up report in December 2009 reiterating its call for a statutory register.

Following allegations about the lobbying activities of some former ministers in March 2010, the Labour Government announced that they would introduce a statutory mandatory register of lobbying activity but did not do so before the May 2010 General Election. The Coalition Agreement published by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government in May 2010 said that the Government will introduce a statutory register of lobbyists and ensure greater transparency. In January 2012 the Government launched a consultation on this statutory register. There has been considerable parliamentary and media interest in the potential for regulation following the investigation by the Cabinet Secretary into the activities of Adam Werrity, a friend of the Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox.

Meanwhile, the lobbying industry responded to the Select Committee’s January 2009 report by establishing the Public Affairs Council Working Party to come up with proposals for a self-regulatory body. As a result, the UK Public Affairs Council was established in July 2010.

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