APPC, CIPR and PRCA act on lobbying register

Three industry bodies have sent a joint definition of 'professional lobbying' to the government minister overseeing plans to legislate for a statutory lobbying register.

Chloe Smith
Chloe Smith

According to a trade body source, the PRCA, the CIPR and the APPC are aiming to convince the Government to make sure its register covers not just consultants but all those who conduct lobbying for money, including in-house staff.

The joint definition is understood to combine elements of the three bodies’ individual definitions and is intended to be sufficiently legally watertight to be credible as a basis for legislation.

The letter containing the definition is an attempt to engage the Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith, who was appointed to oversee the plans five months ago, in discussions. The source said she had not engaged with the industry since her appointment.

The Cabinet Office confirmed last Friday it had just received the letter, saying: ‘We welcome the industry’s latest input, which will be taken into consideration when we bring forward our proposals.’

However, it was still unable to give a timescale for when it would deliver the proposals.

The Government last stated its position on the issue in January 2012, when Smith’s predecessor Mark Harper opened a consultation on proposals suggesting in-house lobbyists would not have to register.  

In July 2012, the Cabinet Office promised to produce ‘revised policy proposals’ after receiving many consultation responses calling for the register’s net to be widened.

However, earlier this month Smith dodged giving a timescale for producing new proposals in a House of Commons debate engineered by Thomas Docherty MP.

Smith said in the debate: ‘The Government consultation received a large response, showing just how important the issue is to the public and why we are working so hard to get our proposals right…  we are currently taking stock.’

A Cabinet Office spokesman told PRWeek the Government remained committed to introducing a statutory lobbying register during the term of this Parliament.

In January, the chairman of the CIPR Public Affairs group Simon McVicker told PRWeek: ‘We are all growing impatient with the lack of progress and information from the Cabinet Office.’

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