Lansley: MPs should guard against 'intrusive' rules on lobbying

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Leader of the House Andrew Lansley has told MPs that they can avoid "excessive" regulation of lobbyists if they stick to the "spirit" of current rules.

He was pressed for details of the government's plans will introduce a statutory register of lobbyists during the business statement on 13 June 2013.

"It's not just MPs who can have an influence on government," said shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle, who went on to claim that adviser to the Conservatives Lynton Crosby "is having a clear influence on government but we don't know who Lynton Crosby's corporate clients are".

"We do know his company Crosby Textor has long lobbied lucratively for big tobacco. We also know that plain packaging for cigarettes suddenly disappeared from this year's Queen's Speech, despite strong hints it would be included.

"Do you agree with me that for the sake of transparency, lobbyists at the heart of Number 10 should publish their interests and their client lists?"

Mr Lansley replied: "We want to proceed on the basis of consideration of the relationship between interests and the responsibilities of members of this House on the basis of advice of the parliamentary commissioner for standards and the standards committee."

He went on to say: "It's very important for all of us in recent weeks to recognise the importance of not only understanding what the rules say but what the spirit behind those rules mean and I think if every member of this House lives by the spirit of the rules as well as the letter of the rules then I think we will avoid what might otherwise be excessive and unduly intrusive rule-making on what members should and should not do."

The legislation on lobbying would appear "in due course", he explained.

Mr Lansley further advised her: "I am here as leader of the House and I speak here on behalf of the government and in that respect of course Lynton Crosby is not in government, or an adviser to government, he is an adviser to the Conservative Party."

The government has said it is planning to have a lobbyists' register in force by 2015.

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