Public Affairs: UKPAC register relaunched

UKPAC releases new version of register following industry criticism.

The long-awaited UKPAC lobbying register has been relaunched, with hopes that it will provide the 'foundation stone' for government regulation.

The register comes as the Government conducts its own consultation over lobbying, which has caused controversy by suggesting that in-house teams should not be included in any future regulation.

The former incarnation of the UKPAC register was dismissed by some industry figures as being inaccurate and unreliable.

However, UKPAC chairman Elizabeth France said she had high hopes for the new register, suggesting it could form the basis of any government regulation.

'It's a foundation stone in place,' said France. 'Setting it up was harder than we thought it would be at first but we have done it at not a huge cost and we think it works.'

France, however, was quick to assert that the register could be tweaked, amended or potentially expanded if required in the future.

She also welcomed back into the fold the PRCA, which left amid accusations that UKPAC had failed in its task.

'It's not universal, and it is definitely there to be improved, but it allows for expansion, and we've always said we're happy for the PRCA to join again.

'The reason we did this register was that with the best will in the world there would be a gap of 18 months to two years during which the Government would have had to have created its own solution, meaning there would have been less transparency rather than more.

'I would challenge anyone on the £60,000 budget we had to deliver anything, but I think we have created a vehicle which can be picked up and used.'

The chairman also said that she hoped that UKPAC, even if not in its current form, could be involved with the regulatory efforts in the future.

UKPAC's ambition is that it will offer the framework to the Government for any register that emerges from the consultation, which ends on 13 April.

The register includes agency contact information, employer details and lists of clients that have received public affairs services.

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