Code of Conduct (continued)

5)     Preserving Confidentiality

A person carrying on lobbying activities should only use and disclose any confidential information received from a public body or an elected or appointed public official in the manner agreed with the body/official and which is consistent with the purpose for which it has been shared.

 

A professional lobbyist or third party carrying on lobbying activities on behalf of other persons should not use, for purposes other than those of their mandate, confidential information obtained in the course of their lobbying activities.  They should not divulge confidential information relating to their clients unless they have obtained the informed consent of their client, or disclosure is required by law.

 

6)     Avoiding Improper Influence

A person carrying on lobbying activities should not, in the course of their lobbying activities, seek to create a sense of obligation on the part of the elected or appointed official by making any offer of gifts or hospitality.

 

A person carrying on lobbying activities should not create a sense of obligation or place elected or appointed public officials in a conflict of interest situation by proposing any offer, inducement or reward (directly or indirectly) which might cause an elected or appointed public official to breach any law, regulation, rule or standard of conduct applicable to them. In that regard a person carrying on lobbying activities should be aware of any rule or code of conduct which might apply to the acceptance of gifts or hospitality by elected or appointed public officials.

 

A person carrying on lobbying activities should not seek to influence an elected or appointed public official other than by providing evidence, information, arguments and experiences which support their lobbying activities.

 

7)     Observing the provisions of the Regulation of Lobbying Act

A)     Registrations and Returns

A person carrying on lobbying activities should familiarise themselves with the provisions of the Act and with any relevant guidance material published by the Standards Commission.  In particular a person carrying on lobbying activities must:

 

1)      Comply with the requirement to register on the Register of Lobbying (the Register) in accordance with section 8 of the Act and provide the information required under section 11 of the Act in the manner and form required by the Standards Commission.

2)      Comply with the requirement to submit regular returns of lobbying activities to the Register as provided for in section 12 of the Act in the manner and form required by the Standards Commission.  This includes “nil” returns where relevant.

3)      Comply with the requirement under section 13 of the Act to provide additional or corrected information if requested to by the Standards Commission.

 

A person carrying on lobbying activities should follow the Standards Commission’s guidance on submitting returns of lobbying activities to ensure that returns of lobbying activities are accurate, complete and submitted on time.

 

A person carrying on lobbying activities on behalf of a client or other person shall inform the client, business or organisation whose interests they are representing of their own requirements and the client’s or other person’s requirements under the Act.

 

The head of an organisation should ensure that employees or other persons who carry out lobbying activities on the organisation’s behalf are aware of the organisation’s requirements under the Act and are made aware of the requirements of this Code of Conduct.

 

B)     “Cooling off” period

Section 22 of the Act provides that “relevant Designated Public Officials (DPOs)” (Ministers and Ministers of State, Special Advisers and Senior Public Servants) are subject to a one-year cooling-off period.  During this period relevant DPOs cannot engage in lobbying activities in specific circumstances, or be employed by, or provide services to, a person carrying on lobbying activities in specific circumstances, namely.

 

The making of communications comprising the carrying on of lobbying activities (as defined in section 5 of the Act) which:

 

  1. Involves any public service body with which the relevant DPO was connected, that is, employed or held an office or other position in the year prior to their leaving, or
  2. Is to a person who was also a DPO who was employed or held an office or other position with that public service body in the year prior to the person’s leaving.

 

A person subject to the one-year cooling-off period may apply to the Standards Commission for consent to undertake such activities or be employed by a person who is undertaking such activities.  The Standards Commission may decide to give consent unconditionally or to give consent with conditions attached.  The Standards Commission may also decide to refuse the application for all or part of the one-year "cooling off" period.

 

If seeking to employ or engage a person who may be subject to the provisions of section 22 of the Act, the employer should first establish whether the person has considered the requirements of section 22 and, if necessary, has sought and received the consent of the Standards Commission to carry on such lobbying activities.

 

8)     Having regard for the Code of Conduct

Section 16(5) of the Act provides that a person carrying on lobbying activities shall have regard to this Code of Conduct.  When engaging in lobbying activities, therefore, a person should, in addition to meeting their statutory obligations under the Act, seek to meet the standards set out in the principles and rules of this Code and should conform to the letter and spirit of this Code of Conduct.