MPs consider who to call for first round of inquiry

The Public Administration Committee will kick off its keenly awaited lobbying inquiry in the next few days.

A spokeswoman said the first evidence session was scheduled for the third week of November. ‘We expect the inquiry to run through December and into the new year,’ she added. It is thought that there will be around eight sessions in total.

Members of the committee, chaired by Labour MP Tony Wright, were due to meet as PRWeek went to press to decide who should give evidence. The spokeswoman said the committee would call on ‘a combination of people who have submitted written evidence and people who the committee wants to hold to account’.

The MPs are certain to call on the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC), which plans to provide chair Gill Morris and former presidents Michael Burrell and Warwick Smith.

It is also likely to approach agencies that have refused to join the APPC, such as DLA Piper, Global Government Relations and Bell Pottinger Public Affairs. Insiders said ‘the jury is out’ on whether the committee would opt to invite Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chair Peter Bingle or his boss, Chime Communications chairman Lord Bell, to give evidence.

The MPs recently returned from a trip to Washington to observe how the heavily regulated lobbying sector works in the US. They will now consider whether similar measures need to be introduced in the UK.

The deadline for interested parties to submit written evidence to the inquiry passed in September.

DLA Piper’s submission contended that a register of lobbyists maintained by the House of Commons would be the best way forward.

The CIPR insists that the current system of self-regulation is broadly effective.

The committee ann­ounced its inquiry into the lobbying industry in June.

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