London,
07
February
2024
|
09:24
Europe/London

Nearly nine in ten UK lobbyists and PRs say that greater lobbying transparency is needed

Summary

Poll published as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) writes to the three main party leaders calling for an overhaul of the 2014 Lobbying Act.

Almost 90% of UK lobbyists and public relations professionals (PRs) think that there should be greater transparency around who is lobbying Westminster politicians, according to a poll published today by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the industry body for UK lobbyists. 

The 2014 Lobbying Act, which received Royal Assent almost exactly ten years ago, introduced a statutory register for third-party consultant lobbyists to record their lobbying of ministers and senior civil servants. However, according to the CIPR’s poll of almost 250 UK lobbyists and PRs, 23% think the register has had no effect on improving transparency, whilst 33% think it has only improved transparency a little. Meanwhile, 83% support the idea of a statutory code of conduct for lobbyists, with 76% supporting the idea of an independent body enforcing standards. 

The poll comes as the CIPR writes to the leaders of the four Westminster parties, calling for a commitment to reforming lobbying rules. Blind to the vast majority of lobbying – only those working as third-party consultant lobbyists are required to sign the register, with those working in house (in banks, law firms and charities, for example) exempt – the Act has failed to stop a string of scandals, be it the Greensill Capital affair or, more recently, Scott Benton’s alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for MPs. 

Key findings include:

  • 86% of UK lobbyists and PRs think that there should be greater transparency around who is lobbying Westminster politicians, with 88% saying recent lobbying scandals have affected the public’s trust in politics
  • Almost 83% of lobbyists and PRs agree or strongly agree that the statutory register should include all lobbyists, not just consultant lobbyists as currently required 
CIPR President Rachael Clamp Chart.PR FCIPR

It was clear ten years ago that the Lobbying Act wasn’t fit for purpose, and the poll results show this is evidently still the case. The Act contains so many loopholes and exemptions that the vast majority of lobbying is out of scope. 

Lobbying is a force for good and has brought about a huge amount of progressive change throughout the course of history, though its good name is being tarnished by a never-ending string of scandals made possible by the defective Act. This poll finds UK lobbyists speaking with one voice when they call for greater transparency to restore confidence in this vital element of the democratic process. 

As the election looms closer, there is a risk that lobbying reform is squeezed out of manifestos. This would be a mistake. Prospective parliamentary candidates might think that lobbying isn’t a typical door-step issue, but it is one that sits at the heart of voters’ perception of MPs, and is exactly the kind of issue that will determine whether the door is even opened.

CIPR President Rachael Clamp Chart.PR FCIPR

METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted from a sample of 235 public affairs professionals between 6th December 2023 – 8th January 2024. It was shared with CIPR’s professional database, via the Institute's social channels, and shared by PR Week UK and Politico's weekly Influence lobbying newsletter.

SURVEY RESULTS (%’s have been rounded)

Do you work in public affairs or engage in lobbying?

  • Yes – 72%
  • No – 28%

If yes, how many years have you worked in public affairs/lobbying?

  • 1-3 years – 17%
  • 3-5 years – 12%
  • 5-10 years – 23%
  • 10+ years – 48%

What type of organisation do you work for?

  • Corporate (agency/consultancy) – 26%
  • Public sector/government/regulator/QUANGO – 17%
  • Corporate (in house) – 14%
  • Charity – 14%
  • Membership organisation – 12%
  • Freelance – 7%
  • Other – 7%
  • Independent practitioner – 3%

Do you think lobbying scandals in recent years have impacted the public’s trust in politics?

  • Yes – 88%
  • No – 6%
  • Don’t know – 6%

Do you think there should be greater transparency around who is lobbying politicians in Westminster?

  • Yes – 86%
  • No – 11%
  • Don’t know – 3%

Do you think there should be a recognised statutory code of conduct setting out clear standards of behaviour for those lobbying politicians?

  • Yes – 83%
  • No – 12%
  • Don’t know – 5%

Who do you believe should enforce standards in the lobbying industry?

  • An independent body – 76%
  • The lobbying industry – 13%
  •  The government – 7%
  • Other – 4%

In your view, how long should former Government Ministers/Senior officials have to wait before they can undertake paid lobbying work?

  • 6 months or less – 6%
  • 1 year – 25%
  • 2 years – 22%
  • 3 years – 10%
  • 5 years – 22%
  • 10 years – 9%
  • They shouldn’t have to wait – 7%

Do you think the public should have access to information about who politicians are meeting with and for whom those people work/are paid by?

  • Yes – 84%
  • No – 11%
  • Don’t know – 5%

To what extent do you think that ORCL has successfully improved transparency of lobbying in the UK?

  • A lot – 2%
  • A moderate amount – 12%
  • A little – 33%
  • None at all – 23%
  • There is less transparency – 5%
  • Don’t know – 24%

The current statutory register in Westminster should include all lobbyists.

  • Strongly agree – 58%
  • Agree – 25%
  • Neither agree nor disagree – 11%
  • Disagree – 4%
  • Strongly disagree – 2%

The current statutory register in Westminster should include a wide range of legislators and decision makers (beyond Ministers and Permanent Secretaries).

  • Strongly agree – 48%
  • Agree – 29%
  • Neither agree nor disagree – 10%
  • Disagree – 9%
  • Strongly disagree – 5%

The current statutory register in Westminster should stay as it is.

  • Strongly agree – 2%
  • Agree – 6%
  • Neither agree nor disagree – 19%
  • Disagree – 40%
  • Strongly disagree – 34%

The current statutory register in Westminster should be scrapped and not replaced.

  • Strongly agree – 5%
  • Agree – 6%
  • Neither agree nor disagree – 17%
  • Disagree – 25%
  • Strongly disagree – 47%

Are you/is your organisation currently registered with the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists (ORCL) in Westminster?

  • Yes – 23%
  • No – 62%
  • Don’t know – 15%
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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 with over 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).