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Form of government and lobbies in UK and UE. A comparative perspective.

di - 21 Febbraio 2013
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But it was just in 1974, that all the practices related to lobbying have been formalized under the impulse of the motions proposed by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Edward Short. In particular, it must be underlined the establishment of a permanent Selected Committee on Members’ Interests and the institution of a Register of the parliamentarians interests – extended since 1996 to the House of Lords (online since 2008) – where they had to declare any business, social or cultural interest and (since 1985) the specific interests of any members of their staff. In 1994, Prime minister John Major created a special commission called Committee on Standards in Public Life, chaired by the Hon. Nolan, with the aim of examine current concerns about standards of conduct of all holders of public office, including arrangements relating to financial and commercial activities, and make recommendations which might be required to censure the highest standards of probity in public life. The mentioned Committee didn’t proposed a Register of lobbies and either to modify the existing Register of Parliamentarians interest, but recommended to forbid (and monitoring) MPs to receive money for “consultancy” activities coming from lobbies.
In November 1995, embracing the recommendations of Hon. Nolan’s Committee, th
e House of Commons established the Parliamentary Commission for Standards and approved the first Code of Conduct for Deputies, which has been modified in 1996 and (last) 2009.The choose of the code of conduct represents a significant elements of the Britain contest, as it has been stated “self-regulation can be a more effective device for controlling activity than externally imposed regulation […] A self-regulating body derives status, respect and self-respect from the fact it is trusted to regulate itself” (Oliver D., 1997, p. 539). After the lobbygate of 1998, which involved a former special advisor of Prime minister Tony Blair (Mr. Derek Draper promised to organize under payment a meeting between a multinational company and a Minister of Blair’s Government; see Cash for access: £2000 buys a Minister, in The Observer, 19 July 1998) a Guidance for Civil Servants has been introduced aimed to rule the contacts between lobbyists and Public officer, recording all the meetings held. One year later, the Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson, has extended the mentioned Guidance to the Ministers.
Considering the “External” rules, since 1837, many initiatives by both the Speakers has been implemented in the define most of all the procedures to follow for the presentation and the approval of the private bills. In 1860, the House of Commons’ Rules has been modified including the “parliamentary agent”, which has been described as a figure who wants to keep stable and directs contacts with parliamentarians and their staff, in order to influence the decision making process sending to them documents, researches, position papers and, also, draft bills. These agents are obligate to enter their names on a public register, including a “certificate of honorability” released by an MPs or by a great renown lawyer (on the theme Erskine-May, 2005, p. 939).
Considering the Register’s outdatedness of the above mentioned Register – the “parliamentary agent” in fact is a figure antiquated owing to the past (there are just few agents accredited today) – the Public Administration Committee of the House of Commons have prepared a report (House of Commons, 2008) recommending the creation of a Register of lobbyists by the main organizations representing lobbyists in United Kingdom, notably the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPS), the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA). In 2010, these organizations have created an independent organism, the UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC) which has been in charge of managing a Public Register of lobbyists. The Register represents today a relevant source of information and a symbol of transparency together with an instrument of auto-regulation. The UKPAC is still working on a Code of conduct for the lobbyist which should be available within the next months.
In respect the financing of politics, the (2009) Political Parties and Elections Act represented a turning point in the discipline. That’s because the new regulations introduced the principle of the transparency, rather than limiting the private financing: “under the current legal framework for funding of political parties, there is no limit on the level of donations that individuals or organizations may donate. The Government will pursue a detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding in order to remove big money from politics” (Prime minister during The Queen’s Speech, House of Commons, 25 May 2010).
In conclusion, it can be observed that British legislator doesn’t have the perception of lobbies as external and estrange elements to the Parliament. That’s why there is a “minimal” framework regulation which is addressed more to the internal side (MPs) than external ones (lobbies) as long as for the firsts there are important considerations in term of accountability. That said, the lobbyist is certainly recognized as an interlocutor of politicians, but he has not the right to participate to the decision making process. The process tends to be transparent: names of lobbyists, interests involved and reasons behind a decision are known.

3.2 The Participation model: the EU case
Aim of this model is not just to guarantee the transparency of the decision making process, but also to ensure the participation of stakeholders to such a process. Following the previous metaphor, we can now imagine the same decision room with “crystal walls”, but in this case there is also the right for the lobbyist to enter in this crystal room participating in the discussion. In accordance with the regulation, in fact, he can sit down around the table, cooperating in the decision making process and, of course, under the eyes of the outsiders. This right of participation is based on the necessity of public decision-makers to understand social interests that parties cannot represent. Example of this kind of model are the USA and the EU system.
EU lobbies activity increased in the 1990s, as a result of the gradual transfer of regulatory functions from Member States to the EU institutions, and the concurrent introduction of qualified majority. In parallel with this increasing functional supply, institutional demand for EU interest groups activity was facilitated by the openness of the European Commission and European Parliament.

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