CIPR responds to recommendations for Register of Lobbying in Scotland
The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee of the Scottish Parliament has today published a recommendation for a Register of Lobbying in Scotland. The Committee examined the question of transparency in lobbying after the Scottish Government announced in June 2013 that it intended to legislate. The Committee is recommending that the Government uses its proposals as a basis for that legislation.
This is a clear recommendation and should be welcomed as such by Scotland’s public affairs and public relations industry. CIPR members, who are committed to transparency, will want to positively engage with any structures put in place that genuinely improve public understanding of lobbying. We are particularly pleased that the Committee has recommended that registering and updating the register should be free, which echoes the CIPR recommendation that the Westminster Register is free of charge for at least the first year, which would give the industry clarity on a key compliance issue.
The recommendation that organisations should register if they undertake significant lobbying activity creates the possibility of a register that would offer the public a reasonable range of information on corporate interests seeking to influence public policy, although we would prefer there to be no discrimination between in-house and commercial (consultant) lobbyists. The proposal for a code of practice for lobbyists and for the MSPs code of conduct to updated are balanced and not unwelcome. Moving forward, as the Government responds to this recommendation and considers the shape of the legislation, we hope they will take every opportunity to positively engage with lobbyists who work in Scotland, to develop a regime that meets clear objectives for building public confidence in our democratic structures.
Since it seems very likely that there will be two registers in the UK, with the Westminster Register of Consultant Lobbyists due to open in March, we hope the Scottish Government will take the compliance burden on small businesses and sole traders in the sector in to account as they put their proposals together.
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).