Transparency matters to you
In the UK, people with money and access are able to influence those in power to make decisions behind closed doors, without transparency.
These decisions affect your daily life, from the cost of your energy bill to the quality of the facilities at your nearest hospital.
Some decisions are made with the public interest in mind, but other decisions are distorted to favour private interests.
Those with deep pockets can spend significant amounts on lobbying and attempt to make sure their sectional interests come first, regardless of the social, economic or environmental consequences. Only through transparency can we find out the facts we deserve to know. Join us in our fight for a more transparent and just political system.
Transparency International UK's #TransparencyMatters campaign is all about the importance of transparency in the fight against corruption and the effect if has on our everyday lives. Starting with lobbying, #TransparencyMatters will make the link between activities at the top and the wide-ranging issues that affect us all. Interested in the detail? Read our new report Accountable Influence here. Want to get involved? Tell us why #TransparencyMatters to you and get involved here.
Who's meeting the UK Government?
Transparency International UK analysed the latest available data on UK Ministers meeting with lobbyists. This covered the 3 month period April-June 2014.
TransparencyMatters because without information about lobbyist meetings we can't know whether certain groups have too much influence over government decisions.
In fact, we still do not really know because the Government publishes this information late (the most recent available data is over a year old), doesn't include any meaningful detail about the meetings, and is in a format that is hard to access and analyse. If this data was better, lobbyists and those they seek to influence would be less likely to get away with abusing the system.
Type of lobbyists meeting with Ministers
A wide range of groups meet with government officials seeking to influence policy. But who's doing it most? Unfortunately, the UK's lobbyist register only covers 4% of lobbyists, and records of meetings provide us with very little useful information with which to hold those involved to account.
However, we have found that almost 50 per cent of organisations meeting with Ministers are companies. The FTSE 100 are particularly well represented.
The FTSE 100 is an index of the 100 largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Of the top ten most frequent Ministerial visitors, eight were listed in the FTSE 100 (excluding public bodies, such as the BBC and Network Rail), with one of the remaining two being a trade association representing members of the FTSE.
This in itself does not suggest corrupt behaviour by these companies, and there may well be very valid reasons for the higher number of meetings government has with these organisations. But without more information about the content of these meetings you could be forgiven for thinking that those with the most money and connections exert the greatest influence over your government, while other important voices are lost.
#TransparencyMatters because public trust in the UK political establishment is low.
In 2013 Transparency International UK did a survey in which 59 per cent of respondents believed that the UK Government is 'entirely' or 'to a large extent' run by a few big entities acting in their own best interests. If there was more transparency about who public officials are meeting with, the government could begin to rebuild the trust of the British public.
Who are the biggest players?
Number of meetings between Ministers and most frequent visitors including the average for all lobbyists
Number of meetings
Confederation of British Industry
A lobbying organisation representing the interests of a broad range of businesses inthe UK, from FTSE 100 companies to family owned businesses and trade associations.
One of the largest multinational banking and financial services companies in the world.
BBC (public body)
The UK's public service broadcaster, and second largest media broadcaster in the world.
A multinational banking and financial services company.
A multinational defence, security and aerospace company.It is among the world's largest defence contractors.
An American-owned newspaper publisher, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the American mass media conglomerate — Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
A multinational oil company, and one of the world's six "supermajor" oil and gas companies.
A global group of energy and petrochemicals companies. It is one of the largest companies in the world and and one ofthe world's six oil and gas "supermajors".
A multinational telecommunications services company operating in over 170 countries worldwide.
Network Rail (public body)
The owner and infrastructure manager of most of the rail network in England, Scotland and Wales.
A British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biologics company, headquartered in London. It is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
A public holding company that designs, develops, manufactures and services integrated power systems for use in the air, on land and at sea.
UK lobbying map
From Westminster to Belfast, Cardiff to Edinburgh, lobbying is happening. Which parts of the UK are making the process transparent, and which are keeping information secret? Transparency International UK have analysed how well we believe each part of the UK is protected against lobbying abuses.
We have compared the current laws across the UK with our good practice standards (find full details in our report Accountable Influence). Worryingly, you'll see no part of the UK scores higher than 50%.
#TransparencyMatters because the current weak laws and regulation around lobbying affect us all.
For example, restrictions around the 'revolving door' are important to prevent abuse of power by individuals moving between government/public office and jobs in the same sector. In 2014 it was reported that Tesco director and former Foods Standards Agency head, Tim Smith, persuaded the government to not publish a report into the food poisoning contamination rates for chicken in supermarkets, claiming it would cause a food scare and damage the industry.
Key lobbying measures across each constituent part of the UK
See explanation of lobbying measures
Statutory register of lobbyists
A publicly available database providing information on who is trying to influence public policy and decision-making. A good register should include details of organisations engaged in lobbying, what they are trying to influence and how much they are spending on these activities.
Register of lobbying meetings
A publicly available database providing information on meetings between public officials and lobbyists. A good register should include the name of the organisation meeting the official, the date when the meeting occurred and meaningful information about the topics discussed.
Ban on paid lobbying by public officials
A ban on public officials (including elected representatives) from providing advisory services on how to influence laws to external organisations, such as private companies.
Ban on paid advisory services for public officials
A ban on public officials, including elected representatives, from providing advisory services to external organisations, such as private companies.
Register of financial interests
A publicly available database providing information on any financial interests held by a public official that may present a conflict of interest and any gifts or hospitality they receive because of their role.
Revolving door restrictions
Restrictions to prevent abuse of entrusted power by individuals moving between public office and jobs in the same sector in the private or voluntary sector, in either direction. This can include a cooling off period where former public officials are banned from lobbying their former employer or prevented from taking up employment with organisations they have had significant contact with in their public role.
Select a region to see results
Hover over an icon for more info