CIPR CEO urges new inquiry into the role of lobbying in our democracy
The Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), Alastair McCapra, has today called on the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Graham Allen MP, to consider a new inquiry into the role of lobbying within UK democracy.
In a letter dated 6 February and published on the CIPR website, Alastair McCapra responded to comments made by Graham Allen MP on the guidance requirements for the Register of Consultant Lobbyists. The CIPR Chief Executive Officer welcomed the increased clarity on joining requirements provided by the latest guidance but criticized the overall manner in which Government and Parliament had handled the introduction of the lobbying register.
We have two main concerns: Firstly, as a consequence of the failure to properly think through the policy, or to listen to the industry until after the legislation was published, we have a Register of Lobbyists which will provide the public with less information about lobbying than they could have discovered through the UKPAC register and other voluntary schemes.
I believe the Lobbying industry is entitled to ask whether this is what the public thought it was getting when the government originally promised to legislate. We believe that most of the things which have caused public concern about influence over government decisions are not affected by this law. On this basis alone, the Register will not stand up to public scrutiny.
Secondly, we are concerned that when, rather than if, this Register is found wanting against the basic test of building public confidence, what will follow will be another poorly thought through regime or the same one but with added severity.
Alastair McCapra also warned Mr Allen that transparency, professional standards and voluntary regulation will need to form the core focus of any future initiatives seeking to address issues with lobbying in the UK.
View the full letter on the CIPR website (PDF format, opens in a new window)
Notes to editors
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.
The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).