Lobbyists in talks over Chartered Institute of Public Affairs

Senior figures in the UK public affairs industry are considering setting up a Chartered Institute of Public Affairs.

A number of in-house public affairs practitioners have raised the idea with senior figures in the CIPR and the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC), with further discussions pencilled in to take place during the summer.

It is believed that such a body would be an attractive option for individual in-house lobbyists who are not catered for by the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) and APPC, and who do not feel at home in the CIPR.

Those calling for a Chartered Institute of Public Affairs include Jacqueline Burrows, head of group public and political affairs at Imperial Tobacco.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the European Centre for Public Affairs (ECPA) last week, Edelman Europe vice-chairman and public affairs industry heavyweight Michael Burrell said he had been involved in early discussions about a Chartered Institute of Public Affairs.

Burrell, who is on the management committee of the ECPA and the APPC, said: 'It is certainly an idea that has been floated by a number of people and it will be part of the debate going forward.'

A Chartered Institute of Public Affairs is seen by some as the only way to ensure that in-house lobbyists sign up to the system of voluntary regulation being promoted by the CIPR, PRCA and APPC under the auspices of the fledgling UK Public Affairs Council.

Significantly, the plans for a UK Public Affairs Council have so far been shunned by the Law Society and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Burrell admitted: 'There is a great deal more to do ... to secure the engagement of in-house practitioners.'

CIPR Government Affairs Group chairman and fellow APPC management committee member Iain Anderson was also open to the idea of a Chartered Institute of Public Affairs and suggested it would not have a detrimental effect on the CIPR or the other two representative bodies. He said: 'A Chartered Institute of Public Affairs could be formed within the existing strictures.'

The ECPA event was supported by Edelman Europe, Public Affairs News, Ellwood & Atfield and the University of Chester.

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