Consultation asks whether charities should be registered as lobbyists

Cabinet Office paper on plans to set up a register includes questions on the role of charities

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament

A Cabinet Office consultation on plans to set up a register of lobbyists asks whether charities and groups lobbying on their behalf should be required to join the register.

The consultation document, Introducing a Statutory Register of Lobbyists, was published today.

Its questions include "should organisations such as trade unions, think tanks and charities be required to register?" and "should organisations which engage in lobbying on behalf of interest groups such as think tanks and charities be required to register?" It asks how charities and think tanks would be included in a definition of lobbyists.

The document points out that the Australian lobbying register has "a wide range of exclusions for charities, church groups and other organisations" and does not include "charitable, religious and other organisations or funds that are endorsed as deductible gift recipients" or "non-profit associations or organisations constituted to represent the interests of their members".

It says a definition along these lines "might be more appropriate" than the Lobbying Disclosure Act in the US, which excludes from its definition of a lobbyist anyone whose lobbying activity takes up less than 20 per cent of their working time over a three-month period.

The report says a statutory register of lobbyists is "an important step towards making politics more transparent".

The consultation will run for 12 weeks, starting today and ending on 13 April.

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