Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw were recently cleared from allegations of breaching rules (Source: Getty)
MPs should be banned from doing all paid advisory and consultancy work relating to parliamentary business, according to Transparency International UK, which claims current rules are "not fit for purpose".
The anti-corruption group said there was a “significant risk of conflicts of interest” in the current status quo, estimating that £3.4m was paid to 73 active MPs last year for external advisory roles.
TIUK has made 38 recommendations to changes to legislation, including a statutory register of lobbyists to include both in-house and consultants; more accurate information to be published around meetings and an independent body to be set up to monitor compliance with lobbying rules.
It also calls for MPs to be "prohibited from undertaking any paid advisory work relating to the affairs of parliament," as is the case in the House of Lords, the Scottish parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
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Arguing that the “public is still in the dark about who is trying to influence UK politics”, the anti-corruption also reports that despite recent efforts to make available information about lobbying practices, just 4 per cent of lobbyists are covered by the government’s new lobbying register.
TIUK's head of advocacy and research Nick Maxwell said: “Lobbyists attempt to influence decisions that affect billions of pounds of public spending and millions of lives across the UK.”
“Greater transparency about lobbying can help build confidence that the government is working in interests of citizens, rather than lobbyists.”
Transparency International UK makes a total of 38 recommendations for changes to legislation to increase lobbying transparency, including a statutory register of lobbyists to include both in-house and consultants and more accurate, public information about meetings between MPs and lobbyists, as well as the establishment of an independent body to be set up to monitor compliance with lobbying rules.
The report comes the week after former foreign secretaries Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw were cleared of misconduct over “cash for access” allegations.