The end of the anti-lobbying clause

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The government has thrown out the anti-lobbying clause.

Today the government published a new set of standards for managing and monitoring grants which replace the anti-lobbying clause proposed by the Cabinet Office last February and whose implementation has been “paused” since April.

The clause was a response to high profile stories of misuse of government funds and was intended to prevent grant holders from using government funds to lobby government for more funds. As we pointed out, the clause would have been both under- and over-inclusive. It wouldn’t have had an impact on the behaviour the government wanted to tackle, but it was likely to have adverse unintended consequences because it applied to lots of other behaviour that the government was not targeting. Some grants the clause was going to be applied to were actually awarded to support activities the clause would have prevented by its definition of lobbying, such as providing information for policymaking.

So we are pleased to see today that the government has published new guidance restating and clarifying its governance and grant monitoring processes. The new guidance asks departments to be clear that activities such as raising issues with Ministers and giving evidence to select committees are not only allowed but encouraged.

Participating in policy discussions is a public service that can be hard, time consuming and intimidating, which is why we and many other organisations, including government, have spent over 10 years making the case for doing it. The government has made the right decision today to try to ensure that it doesn’t erect even more barriers to this.

Published: 2 December 2016