Government lobbying transparency tool revamped and updated

By agency reporter
August 25, 2020

Transparency International UK has launched a revamped version of its free-to-use Open Access tool, which makes it easier for the public to find out which ministers have been meeting lobbyists, when and for what purpose.

The update includes the latest data published by UK Government departments covering January to March 2020. The Government was more than a month late in publishing this data.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for Education, the Department for International Development and the Department for Transport (DfT) failed to publish their transparency data this quarter. This is the second quarter in a row for the FCO and DfT.

Open Access now holds details of more than 60,000 meetings with ministers from 27 departments, spanning back to 2012.

Steve Goodrich, Senior Research Manager at Transparency International UK, said: “Providing transparency over lobbying is critical to ensuring greater accountability of our politicians and those they meet. Making your voice heard is a key part of the democratic process, yet those seeking to influence policy, contracts and other big decisions should do so out in the open. Using official data, Open Access makes it easier for the public to search who met which minister and when.

“We still know far too little about access and potential influence in Westminster. Departments publish ministers’ diaries, but these are often vague, incomplete and late. The UK should follow countries like Canada, Ireland and the US, where reporting by the lobbyists themselves provides more timely and meaningful information about what’s happening in the corridors of power.”

UK Government departments are required by the Ministerial Code to publish the details of ministers’ meetings with external organisations quarterly. This should cover all external meetings ministers have whilst on official business. It does not include meetings ministers have in their capacity as a member of a political party.

Data on ministers’ meetings with external organisations is published on UK Government departments’ websites. The Open Access tool collates this information.

* Read Accountable Influence: bringing lobbying out of the shadows here

* The Open Access tool is here

* Transparency International https://www.transparency.org.uk/

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