This week, PRWeek revealed that the lobbying proposals ‘could be illegal’ in suggesting that in-house lobbyists might escape having to register.
And in the latest PRWeek podcast, which saw vice-chair of the CIPR Public Affairs Group Keith Johnston and former Lansons head of public affairs Mark Adams debate the issue, Adams called the proposals ‘nonsense’.
Adams, who runs the standup4lobbying website, warned that agencies faced with having to pay fees to both the Government and PR bodies like the PRCA would withdraw from the latter.
‘That’s a massive step backwards,’ he said, ‘because then it means they are not covered by a code of conduct of those professional bodies'.
The document was launched on Friday and has caused controversy by suggesting only agencies acting as third party lobbyists would be included.
This led to PRWeek’s revelation that the proposals could break European laws on equality following a lawyers’ investigation into a similar attempt at regulation in Scotland.
Johnston, also a UKPAC board member, was more positive. He welcomed the fact that it was an ‘open document’, saying ‘there’s everything to play for’, before adding that UKPAC could step in as the independent body to run the register.
However, he also expressed concerns over the lack of definition offered on what a lobbyist actually is and the lack of inclusion of in-house agencies.
‘It excludes three-quarters of lobbyists and if you have a register that excludes three-quarters of lobbyists then it’s not really a lobbying register,' he said.
The consultation, which will last for 12 weeks, also outlines proposals to include charities and trade unions.
Adams added that he felt that the whole thing had been a political ‘fudge’ by the Conservatives to placate the Liberal Democrats.
‘This has proved self-regulation works better than this nonsense,’ he said.
To watch the full podcast click here