MP declares war on lobbyists

July 6, 2006 12:00 AM

David Howarth, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, has introduced an amendment to the Company Law Reform Bill which declares war on secret big business lobbying in the House of Commons.

As reported earlier this year in The Times companies are able to fund, prepare and even write controversial reports in the name of All Party Parliamentary Groups of MPs but as the law currently stands this activity is not counted as political. Mr. Howarth's amendment will, if passed, make sure that this form of lobbying is classed as political activity.

Mr. Howarth commented:

"We need much greater transparency in our political system. Many commercial organizations are closely tied with All Party Parliamentary Groups and it is crucial and this lobbying work is classed as political activity. Shareholders need to know what their company is engaged upon and the public need to know whether a parliamentary report has been prepared independently."

David standing in front of poster for the lobbying movie 'Thank You for Smoking'

David at the movie 'Thank you for smoking' which satirises the tobacco lobby

The law currently demands that companies wishes to engage in political activity must first have a resolution passed by their shareholders before they can do so. Political activity currently only includes financial payments to political parties and explicitly excludes work with All Party Parliamentary Groups. Mr. Howarth's amendment will explicitly include involvement in All Party Parliamentary Groups in political activity. The amendment will be discussed in the Standing Committee on the Company Law Reform Bill.

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