This chapter deals with lobbying. In the United Kingdom, most regulation of lobbying activities has focussed on regulating those being lobbied, rather than the lobbyists themselves. However, the increase in lobbying has created together created powerful pressure to regulate lobbyists directly and the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 has started the process of requiring some lobbyists to register. The chapter also examines the role of All-Party parliamentary groups(APGs) and their vulnerability to lobbying activity.
This chapter examines party-funding . The radical reform inherent in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 quickly proved inadequate to the challenges of regulating an area so central to party competition. The founding legislation was not sufficiently clear about donor transparency, and the Electoral Commission was uncertain about how to calibrate regulatory burdens, and how to allocate its resources across the complex nature of its mission. This brought the Commission into tension with its original architect, the CSPL, and underlined the difficulty faced by the Commission as it struggled to sustain necessary political support from Parliament and from the parties. The new system, unquestionably a major advance over what went before in terms of transparency, nevertheless in several respects actually stimulated greater controversy, with compliance issues becoming particularly controversial where previously they had not existed.
The rise and fall of the Standards Board for England
The chapter examines the case of English local government and the experience of the Standards Board for England. The model chosen was an ambitious one, superficially built on a clear and authoritative structure of external, independent, statute-based regulatory authority. In practice, as the eventual demise of the SBE demonstrated, the model was badly conceived and badly implemented, the fault lying mostly at central-government level. Despite its decision to impose external regulation, the Labour government was unsure of how far it wanted to take this principle, and delayed its eventual decision in ways that seriously overburdened the SBE, and cost it dearly in terms of credibility, loss of allies within local government, and at Westminster. Eventually a more satisfactory balance between local and centralized regulation was established, and important modifications were made to the model Code of Conduct, allowing a lighter-touch form of strategic regulation. This shift came too late to save the model established by the Local Government Act 2000, however, and the fatal loss of credibility and institutional allies left the SBE as a relatively soft target for a new mood of light-touch regulation which informed the approach of the Coalition government elected in 2010.
This chapter explores the different arrangements for ethical regulation in the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Initially, these arrangements were provided for in the devolution legislation but over time the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies have developed and refined their own machinery in the light of experience. Although the three different jurisdictions differ in their approach to the regulation of standards, all have been giving increasing attention to the problem of ethical issues. In Scotland an early lobbying scandal (“lobbygate”) swiftly led to the establishment of a Code of Conduct and stronger regulatory machinery. Recent initiatives have produced a new approach to regulating lobbyists. Wales has also refined its standards machinery since devolution was introduced. Northern Ireland continues to lag behind the other two areas , although has learned from experience in Scotland and is catching up with improvements to its integrity arrangeemnts. The chapter analyses the distinctive features of the three systems and identifies continuing differences both from each other and the rest of the UK.
This chapter analyses the overall consequences of two decades of ethical regulation. The assessment is based on the operational experience of the regulators themselves. It analyses the initial thinking by the political authorities, the CSPL, and the regulatory agencies about which models are appropriate for each particular public-life context and how this thinking has evolved. The chapter draws the themes of the book together to answer a series of questions . Has what has been built led to a better public understanding of what works? Is there evidence of regulatory mission-creep, either on the part of the authorities in designing ethical regulation, or the regulators in implementing it? Have regulatory agencies themselves learned to foster cooperative working relationships with those actors over whom they have regulatory authority, and with those actors to whom they are themselves accountable? What lessons if any should we draw from the experience of the last twenty years?