Smith warns lobbyists to protect rights via code

Former APPC president Warwick Smith has urged lobbying organisations to enforce a code of practice or face losing their basic rights.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Campaign for Museums, the College Public Policy MD warned that the right to lobby is in danger if practitioners do not follow guidelines.

‘Rights are not to be taken lightly – if they are abused, they are taken away,’ Smith told attending arts and culture sector PROs.

Smith, who will be part of the APPC delegation to the upcoming Public Administration Committee lobbying inquiry, urged companies, not-for-profit groups, unions and advisers to develop a code of practice.

‘The APPC, PRCA and CIPR have developed guiding principles that we feel should be applied to any organisation taking a case against government,’ said Smith. ‘We are urging other membership organisations such as the CBI, TUC and the NVCO to adopt their own codes that apply guiding principles to members.’

Smith added that each of these bodies should ensure its approach is transparent in order to be effective.

‘Our duty as lobbyists is not to abuse the openness of the institutions of government in the UK, but to work with them in a way which respects them, and in an honest, open and transparent way,’ he said.

‘Lobbying is an ancient and fundamental democratic right, enshrined in the Magna Carta and Second Amendment in the US Constitution. Without lobbying, our government would take less effective decisions.’

Smith was MD of Citigate Public Affairs before setting up the public policy division of corporate comms agency College Hill last year (PRWeek, 19 October 2006).

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