MPs vote to remove independent standards process damages reputation and standing of parliament
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has raised concerns that a vote to introduce a new committee of MPs to deal with misconduct claims against MPs "damages the important work of those who work hard to uphold the reputation and standing of parliament".
The new committee replaces the current independent system following a vote in the House of Commons yesterday which saw a decision to suspend Owen Paterson MP for an apparent breach of the MPs code of conduct overturned.
Serving legislators should not be employed to do lobbying work. Any concerns that a CIPR member is engaged in such activity should be raised via our independent complaints process or discussed via the CIPR Ethics Hotline.
In recent years there has been frequent criticism of professional lobbying, but scant evidence that professional lobbyists act improperly. Most of the so-called "lobbying scandals" have been sting operations that sought to expose MPs' willingness to act outside the rules.
In the Owen Paterson case we see the same thing - an MP independently ruled to have breached their code of conduct, so parliament's answer is to move the goalposts. This reflects badly only on MPs themselves and damages the important work of those on the standards committee who work hard to uphold the reputation and standing of parliament.
The frustration for those of us who have long called for meaningful changes to improve transparency around lobbying only to be ignored is the speed and ease at which the rules can be changed - only in this case towards less scrutiny and independence. Professional lobbyists should and do conduct their business ethically, transparently, and legitimately. They register themselves properly and follow the rules. The same cannot always be said about those we seek to lobby.
- Read the CIPR's Lobbying Position Paper here.
- Visit our page on professional standards to view the CIPR code of conduct and to download a guide of our complaints process.
- The CIPR has published a guide on professional standards for lobbying, explaining the CIPR Code of Conduct in the specific context of public affairs.
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the world's only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas with nearly 10,000 members.
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).