Lobbying bill a highly politicised piece of legislation

The lobbying bill is to be brought in before Parliament breaks up for its summer recess. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

This morning the Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters that the register of lobbyists - the same register that had been proposed in the Coaltion Agreement three years ago - was still a work in progress.

To use his exact phrase, he said the work was "live and ongoing" and details would be announced in the "near future".

But a few hours later, Downing Street announced plans to legislate for a register by the summer.

The hastily arranged plans - in response to weekend claims that one MP and three peers had broken Parliamentary rules over lobbying - will also include a clampdown on the trade unions who fund the Labour Party.

The bill will propose tightening up the union membership lists and will force any party (but really this means just Labour) to include the financial contribution it receives from unions to fight elections - including the costs of leaflets printed by the unions to help Labour in election campaigns.

That immediately makes this a highly politicised piece of legislation.

It came after a regular meeting between David Cameron and Nick Clegg at lunchtime.

Asked if other parties had been consulted about the plans, Downing Street said, "There has been a process of deliberation within Government on the entire package".