Lobbying is an essential part of the democratic process. Organisations such as interest groups, representative bodies, industry, NGOs, charities and third party professional lobbyists all provide necessary input and feedback through communication of their views and concerns to government.
This interaction is a welcome and necessary element of policy development. Public bodies should continue to actively facilitate and encourage such communications to the greatest extent possible.
The purpose of the Act is to make the process of carrying out lobbying activities more transparent while supporting the interaction of public bodies with their stakeholders. The Act does not seek to prevent or inhibit lobbying activity and public bodies or DPOs should not use the Act as a reason to refuse engagement with persons carrying on lobbying activities. It is important that engaging in lobbying activity and registering and submitting returns to the Register should not have, or be perceived to have, any negative impact on a person’s interaction with public bodies or their officials. There may already be rules in place in relation to certain matters where lobbying is inappropriate and may disqualify one for consideration. In those instances, the Act does not affect such arrangements other than to identify that such communications have taken place (if they constitute ‘relevant communications’ as defined in the Act (see below)).