CIPR calls for universal lobbying register
Following today’s second reading of Thomas Docherty’s Commercial Lobbyists (Registration and Code of Conduct) Bill, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations urges the government to engage with the public affairs profession as they move to establish a register of lobbyists.
The Commercial Lobbyists Bill, a Private Members’ Bill, would exempt anyone engaged in lobbying which is not “for financial gain” from registering, creating an invitation for avoidance. It highlights how some proposals for a register of lobbyists, including the Government’s own, would not completely tackle the issue of transparency and that it is crucial to ensure that the definition included in any legislation is workable and does not create loopholes.
The CIPR has consistently argued for a register that includes everyone engaged in the act of lobbying, including those who lobby for charities, trade unions and pressure groups, as well as in-house or agency lobbyists.
The Bill also proposes a statutory code of conduct for lobbyists which would undermine the existing voluntary industry codes and would risk creating a lower minimum standard of professional conduct.
Any register of lobbyists must include all individuals and organisations who seek to influence public policy if it is going to stand any chance of meeting the Government’s own aim of increasing transparency around lobbying.
Introducing a statutory code of conduct would be a counter-productive step. Voluntary codes of conduct, such as the ones established by the CIPR, the PRCA and APPC are building public confidence and trust in lobbying and should be supported by Government.
It’s time for the Government to engage with the industry to develop legislation that is reflective of the diversity and complexity within the public affairs industry.
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public relations (CIPR) is the professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK. With over 10,000 members involved in all aspects of PR, it is the largest body of its type in Europe. The CIPR advances the public relations profession in the UK by making its members accountable through a code of conduct, developing policies, representing its members and raising standards through education and training.