NCVO backs lobby register

The body representing the voluntary sector has embraced controversial plans for a register of public affairs experts being put forward by the Government.

Nick Clegg: overseeing register
Nick Clegg: overseeing register

Last week, Number 10 confirmed that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg would take responsibility for a register of public affairs practitioners, as well as other elements designed to clean up the political system.

The news follows the National Council for Voluntary Organisations' (NCVO) dismissal of the UK Public Affairs Council's (UKPAC) proposal for a register last year.

A written response by the NCVO to UKPAC last June argued that it was important to recognise that 'lobbyists from the charity sector are different to their colleagues in the private sector, and are already regulated by the Charity Commission'.

The UKPAC was formed through a partnership between the APPC, CIPR and PRCA, in order to create and oversee a register of public affairs professionals. But now the NCVO is supporting the Government's own register, which is expected to be informed by the work already being done by UKPAC.

Chloe Stables, NCVO's parliamentary officer, said she supported the Government's move: 'Our preference has always been for a statutory register. UKPAC was supporting self-regulation, of which we were not supportive.'

Stables said the NCVO would continue working with UKPAC 'to show how its register would impact on the Government's own plans, and now we will continue to work with it as it takes forward a statutory register'.

However, Plan UK director of communications Leigh Daynes disagreed with the NCVO's decision, stating: 'I'm not sure how a register would work, and we do have umbrella organisations such as NCVO, so we would want to avoid duplication and waste.'

Daynes added that he would be supportive of a code of conduct for charities working in public affairs.

The Institute of Fundraising declined to comment on the Government's statutory plan.

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