Lobbying Register – CIPR, APPC and PRCA working together
In response to the Government's proposal to create a statutory lobbying register, the APPC, CIPR and PRCA have been working together over recent months to develop what we jointly believe is a workable and acceptable definition of lobbying.
The aim is to influence how the Government sees lobbying as they draft the legislation that will introduce a statutory register of lobbyists. Each organisation believes the definition included in the legislation will determine how successful the register is – whether or not it genuinely increases transparency in lobbying in line with the Government’s stated aim. The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee agreed with this stance in their report and said “the definition will be key to the success and effectiveness of any future register”.
The definition proposed supports the common position between the three organisations that a register of lobbyists should include everyone who seeks to influence public policy and law, with a number of common sense exemptions. We also want to see an approach from the Government that provides a greater degree of certainty about their proposals.
The key is 'universality': firstly any statutory lobbying register must be universal in terms of the lobbyists it covers: ensuring all lobbyists operating in the UK, both in-house and agency, are included in new legislation. Secondly, the definition of those who are lobbied must also be universal - in other words ensuring that central, devolved and local government are all covered. Any new system of statutory lobbying registration will only work properly if the public has confidence in a system that provides transparency of all lobbying interactions, not just a select few.
It is disappointing that we still don't know what the government intends to do about the register of lobbyists almost three years since it was included in the coalition agreement. It is important that any register includes all lobbyists in any context within the realms of common sense, but we also want the register to support the existing structures of self-regulation already provided by the industry. Members of the APPC, CIPR and PRCA are accountable to codes which require adherence to higher standards of professional conduct. This should be the basis of their approach.
It has been clear from the start of the consultation process that the only workable statutory register is one that covers all professional lobbyists. The PRCA, APPC, and CIPR understand this. If the Government is seriously committed to a statutory register then this robust definition provides an opportunity to produce a register that has cross-industry support, and can establish public trust in the institutions that we lobby.
The proposed definition is the result of our organisations' combined effort as well as the expert input of a parliamentary draughtsman and has now been sent to the Minister responsible for the Lobbying Register.
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).