PRCA: CIPR 'wrong' to suggest sector is 'scared' to resist new lobbying disclosures

The PRCA says rival trade body the CIPR is "wrong" to suggest the industry "should be scared to say no" to calls to voluntarily disclose information on meetings they have with ministers or civil servants as part of the new lobbying register.

Francis Ingham: Comments from lobbying registrar "border on the absurd"
Francis Ingham: Comments from lobbying registrar "border on the absurd"

Alison White, who is overseeing the register, made the request at a meeting with the CIPR Public Affairs Group last week ahead of a launch of a consultation into the register. CIPR chief executive Alastair McCapra said the answer to White’s request "needs to be a resounding ‘yes’", adding: "We can go willingly now or be pushed later, and we have to decide whether we really want the public to take our protestations of commitment to transparency and the public interest seriously or not."

But PRCA director general Francis Ingham said White’s comments "border on the absurd".

"She is basically saying that the job she applied for and was appointed to is meaningless. These comments - if reported accurately - reduce the quango’s credibility from minimal to zero.

"Alastair McCapra is wrong to suggest that the industry should be scared to say no. On the contrary, it should give the right answer, not the politically convenient one. We at the PRCA will continue to call for a fundamental rethink of the flawed act, and will not be involved in this minor tinkering. We will also continue to stand up for our industry in the face of those who unfairly denigrate it or laden it with pointless burdens."

He added: "It is also important to point out that it is already entirely in the Government’s power to record information about meetings of ministers and civil servants with public affairs practitioners, via ministerial and civil service diaries."

Ingham said the PRCA would consult with its members ahead of the Government’s formal consultation paper, expected this week.

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