Political lobbying: The current rules for UK MPs
There have long been calls for a tightening of the rules on lobbying of politicians but plans for a statutory register of lobbyists have yet to make it into the government's legislative agenda.
But what are the existing regulations on political lobbying?
All MPs, including ministers, are subject to a code of conduct when it comes to their outside interests and dealings.
- Be paid to act as a director, consultant, or adviser, or in any other capacity, whether or not such interests are related to membership of the Commons.
- Be sponsored by a trade union or any other organisation and receive hospitality in the course of their parliamentary duties.
- Disclose their financial interests in a Register of Members' Financial Interests
- Draw attention to any relevant interest when speaking in the Commons or corresponding with ministers, departments or executive agencies
- Live up to the general principles of public life outlined in the code
- Take decisions based on the public interest not for their own financial benefit or for that of their family or friends.
- Not place themselves under any financial obligation to outside individuals or organisations.
- Make appointments or award contracts on merit not on any other basis.
- Be accountable for their decisions to the public and submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate
- Be as open as possible about all decisions and actions they take.
- Declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
- Not act as a paid advocate in any parliamentary proceedings. They should not take payment to speak in Parliament, to vote a certain way, to introduce legislation, to amend legislation or to urge others to do so.
- Not lobby for "reward or consideration" on behalf of any organisation with which they have a declared financial interest.
- Be open with other MPs and officials about their dealings with any organisation with which they have a financial relationship, including activities which may not be a matter of public record such as informal meetings and functions.
- Not use information which they receive in confidence in the course of their parliamentary duties for financial gain.
In addition, ministers must comply with guidelines when they leave office:
- For two years after leaving office, they must get the approval of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments for any appointment or employment they wish to take up.
- They are expected to accept the committee's advice.
- Former Cabinet ministers must normally wait three months after leaving office before they can accept any kind of paid employment.
- Former ministers should not lobby existing ministers on behalf of any organisation for which they are employed for two years after leaving office.