National Assembly’s open and transparent approach to lobbying validated by Committee report
2 May 2013
The National Assembly for Wales’s Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM, has welcomed an Assembly Committee’s report into lobbying.
The Standards of Conduct Committee recognised that the Assembly already has robust systems in place to ensure transparency and openness in the way that Assembly Members deal with external organisations and individuals.
Last year, the Presiding Officer asked the Committee to look at the issue of lobbying in the Assembly, and whether changes were needed to make the system more transparent.
The Committee has recommended a strengthening of guidance to Members and for the operation of Cross Party Groups (CPGs), but felt that the system was already robust enough to negate the need for further legislation.
The Presiding Officer wrote to the Secretary of State for Wales and to the Cabinet Office, insisting that Assembly Members should be responsible for making decisions about future governance arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.
She stated that she did not want the Assembly included in any future Westminster legislation because Wales does not face the same issues, and negative perception, surrounding access by external organisations to Members that the UK Parliament receives.
“My view has always been that it should be for the Assembly to decide on these matters, and that we were not facing the same kind of negative issues surrounding access to elected members that Westminster was, and is, facing,” the Presiding Officer said.
“That’s why I asked the chair of the Standards of Conduct Committee to undertake an inquiry into the current system of governance the Assembly has in relation to lobbying.
“The Committee has fully validated this approach and recognised that robust and transparent systems are already in place to govern Assembly Members’ relationship with external organisations, but we should never be complacent.
“Although the Committee stops short of a register of lobbyists, I believe its recommendations underpin those robust structures and are proportionate.
“So while Westminster prevaricates over the issue of lobbying and transparency in public life, the National Assembly has acted to ensure that openness is cemented into the way that it conducts business.”