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uk lobbying regulation bill – second reading September 3, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : lobbying , add a comment

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14 is having its second reading in Parliament today (Richard III, fracking, BSkyB, and tobacco have featured in the debate). The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee issued a call for, and received, written evidence about the regulation of consultant lobbyists under the Bill. Many of the submissions argued that the Bill would create uncertainty and risked reducing rather than enhancing transparency with respect to lobbying. The Committee took oral evidence today. Meanwhile, charities and even MPs have expressed concern about the Bill. The NCVO published legal advice it obtained about the Bill from Helen Mountfield QC which identifies a number of problems of uncertainty. For example:

Much of the activity which charities and VSOs undertake is, by its nature, policy-orientated and therefore ‘political’ in the widest sense. In my view, many materials produced by charities and VSOs compatibly with the guidance in the Charity Commission Guidance CCR9 are capable of falling within the definition of ‘election materials’ (in s85(3) PPERA as it stands), or of being for an ‘election purpose’ (in s85 (2A) and s85(3) PPERA as prospectively amended by clause 26 of the Bill)… For example, an anti-poverty charity which advocates continuing to spend a particular proportion of GDP on overseas aid and publishes material saying so during the relevant period could ‘reasonably be regarded’ as intending to promote or procure electoral success for a party or parties or candidates who advocate the same in connection with future elections, even though such material could reasonably be regarded as also intended to achieve another purpose such as maintaining a high level of public expenditure on poverty reduction abroad. Thus, expenditure on materials of this kind during the year before a general election could well fall within the definition of ‘election materials’ in PPERA as it stands.

financial services lobbying July 10, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation, lobbying , add a comment

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has published a number of articles about lobbying in the financial services context including this one about the FSA’s meetings with trade groups (and here’s the link to the story at the Guardian) which refers to minutes of meetings (which I would love to see). But of course these meetings happened in a context where politicians were telling regulators not to over-regulate, and not to gold-plate EU measures. The directive not to over-regulate came from the same place as Agius’ comments about the competitive international context in which Barclays operates, and trade associations have been dedicating huge amounts of effort for years not just to meeting with politicians and regulators but to developing sophisticated rhetorical and even theoretical arguments to support what they want from regulation. I remember one announcement for an FSA conference which explicitly stated that it would provide an opportunity for regulated firms to interact with their regulator. And, in December 2008 I asked:

whether it is really possible to have effective representation of consumer interests in a structure where the consumer representation is funded by a regulator which is committed to not frightening regulated firms too badly.

On some issues we seem to have moved on a bit from this point. But as to the larger question of how we develop policy in an environment with appropriate levels of scepticism about the arguments financial firms make about regulation, I am not at all sure. And by appropriate levels here I am concerned not only with the risk that regulation may be too lax but also that sometimes it may be too restrictive.

reorganization of lobbying efforts January 18, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : lobbying , comments closed

The American Securitization Forum announced the other day that it was going to separate its lobbying efforts from those of SIFMA to focus more effectively on lobbying on securitization:

we .. look forward to serving, in an even more focused fashion, all securitization market participants. Our membership includes financial intermediaries, issuers, investors, servicers, law firms, accounting firms and other transaction parties. We believe that operating as a completely independent organization will allow us to do an even better job of helping to restart our markets and getting affordable credit flowing again to American consumers and businesses. As the only organization solely focused on the broad securitization markets, and with membership in every part of the markets, the ASF is uniquely positioned to craft and advocate consensus market positions.

(non) regulation of lobbying in the uk December 17, 2009

Posted by Bradley in : lobbying , comments closed

The House of Commons Public Administration Committee published a report yesterday which concludes that not much progress hs been made on the regulation of lobbying:

We are encouraged that our report has led to some tentative movement in the direction of better regulation of lobbying and greater transparency on the part of government and the lobbying industry. However, progress is slow and we remain sceptical that effective regulation will be achieved without legislation. Some lobbyists may be delaying regulation in the hope that the concentration on their activities will die down after a General Election. This would be a cynical attitude which we believe would misjudge the public mood. If the industry is serious about trying to avoid external regulation then it needs to have robust procedures in place for self-regulation before the General Election.

lobbying and transparency August 17, 2009

Posted by Bradley in : lobbying , comments closed

Bodies which seek comments on regulatory proposals don’t always make public the comments they receive, and they are not necessarily consistent in how they deal with comments. Comments are sometimes published by the recipients, sometimes not. Similarly, trade associations which make comments sometimes publish the full text and sometimes do not. For example, I have noted in the past that ISDA makes public only some of its comment letters. But that doesn’t explain why a joint submission to the EU Commission on European financial supervision by SIFMA, LIBA and ISDA should be made public by LIBA, but presented by SIFMA Europe as being only available to its members. And, as of today, the comment letter doesn’t even appear in ISDA’s list of comment letters.

lobbying against financial regulation reform August 14, 2009

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The Florida Bankers’ Association’s form email for lobbying against regulatory reform has some pretty incoherent sections. For example:

I look forward for the opportunity to work to ensure the regulatory restructuring is properly targeted to the “Shadow Banking Industry”, it carefully be thought out, and to strike the right balance between risk and regulation.

I guess they were in a hurry.

merger of sifma europe and liba May 5, 2009

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SIFMA Europe and the LIBA have announced that they will merge “their London-based operations into a single independent European organisation”. Regional organizations will be linked through a Global Financial Markets Association:

Over recent years LIBA and SIFMA-Europe have increasingly worked closely together. LIBA’s primary expertise in successful policy and advocacy work complements SIFMA-Europe’s product-focused knowledge and activities. The merger is the next logical step toward a fully-integrated, efficient and cost-effective European operation.
As market and regulatory developments increasingly take place on an international stage, a global-facing organisation is the optimum structure to serve best members’ interests.

Rationalization and cost-savings seem to be drivers of the decision, though there will be a loss of whatever benefit comes from having comment letters jointly produced by two organizations.