Concerns about how evidence was used were also reflected in general uncertainty about how consultation responses were analysed, and how decisions were finally arrived at. Some participants felt that more transparency was required, and that political processes of policy-making could ultimately undermine the consultation outcomes.
I have no idea how they balance it. Sometimes I’ve heard ministers say, “ it’s the numbers of submissions that matter”, without really looking at actually who is making the submission, who is supporting that submission, and giving that due weight against others. I don’t know how that works, I just don’t know. [SH8]
You think, “Oh, the IPO have run a stellar consultation process. They have listened to everyone and produced a really balanced proposal.” It will go into committee. The big lobbying interests, whether it be the tech sets or the labels will change it for their interests. They’ll get MPs on side. All those other voices, the general public, the artist’s representatives, won’t be able to be there. Then what you end up with is not this great best practice piece of legislation. [SH15]
Other participants recognised that although complete transparency about the process was important, it was not always possible.
The process of actually publishing the government findings from a consultation is incredibly good. We do need to see the summaries and why people have asked for different things, and that helps support the policy decision. As long as that is done in an open and transparent way, people, generally, can accept, "Okay, we've lost that battle, but we haven't necessarily lost the war," if you've got very strong feelings about a particular thing. [SH9]
It’s about being open, it’s being honest, it’s about being as transparent as possible. Recognising that there are some things that… we aren’t allowed to share [...] but we can certainly say, “Look, we took advice on X and Y, we also looked at this, and we looked at that” etc. We can talk about those things, but it isn’t always possible for us to actually hand some of that out. [SH1]