An interesting exchange from the Guardian’s online debate with Jeremy Hunt:
Hannah Pool (Guardian): We’ve had lots of questions about Jeremy’s answer to the lobbying question because most people think that the Conservative Party are only committing themselves to a voluntary code but we got the impression from what you said that you’re committing them to a compulsory code. Is that right because that’s different from manifesto policy?
Jeremy Hunt: We believe in a statutory code.
Michael White (Guardian): Okey-dokey, that’s a straight and short answer.
Compare that to the Tory manifesto, which seems to back self regulation:
The lobbying industry must regulate itself to ensure its practices are transparent – if it does not, then we will legislate to do so.
Anti-lobbying campaigners are already claiming victory. Looks like a rather short lived manifesto commitment.
UPDATE: No change! The Tories have called to say that their policy on lobbying is the same as in the manifesto. Hunt was referring to the statutory code for MPs, not the lobbying industry. He probably should have made that more clear in the discussion. But Britain’s lobbyists can breathe easy.