Welsh lobbying register 'needs more thought'


BBC


Lobbyists and interest groups seeking to influence Welsh Assembly members should not have to sign a register for the time being, a committee has said.
A report has instead recommended assessing how registers in Scotland and at Westminster work as the next step.

A group of AMs will be asked to voluntarily reveal details for a pilot scheme, to be evaluated in 2020.

Action has also been urged on ensuring lobbyists do not use assembly security passes for unrestricted access to AMs.

Lobbyists are companies or individuals paid to influence government decisions.

They have been subject to calls from AM Neil McEvoy and some campaigners for more openness and transparency about their activities.

'Engaged and open'

The assembly standards committee, which looked at the case for regulation, said it found little evidence to support a voluntary register but recommended waiting to see how the forthcoming Scottish system works before taking a decision in Wales.

Committee chairwoman Jayne Bryant said: "Lobbying needs to be part of an ongoing dialogue in an engaged and open democracy.

"It is apparent from the evidence gathered that there is no easy answer to the questions of how to define or share information about lobbying.

"It is in the public interest to establish the impact of groups seeking to influence politicians.

"However, the committee has concluded that there is insufficient evidence at present regarding how the public can best access this information once it has been obtained."

Members recommended publishing details of all events sponsored by AMs on assembly premises, whether private or open to the public, as a means of showing the assembly's "commitment to the utmost transparency".

They also called for all assembly staff passes to expire as soon as their holders no longer worked there, to ensure no lobbyist was able to use them to gain "unrestricted access to AMs through visiting their offices".

In 2013, the then assembly standards committee concluded AMs should face tighter scrutiny but not a full official register.

First Minster Carwyn Jones has said lobbyists do not have access to Welsh ministers.
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