'Kitemark' scheme mooted

Public Affairs Council suggests mark to identify 'ethical' lobbyists.

Lobbyists could be awarded a 'kitemark' to demonstrate their commitment to transparent behaviour, under plans being drawn up by senior players in the industry.

The kitemark scheme is part of a wider set of proposals for self-regulation being devised by the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC), CIPR and PRCA.

The plans are still being finalised and will be unveiled next week. It is hoped that the proposed scheme will persuade the Government against introducing a mandatory register of all lobbyists.

The blueprint is being developed by the Public Affairs Council, set up earlier this year by the APPC, PRCA and CIPR (PRWeek, 13 March). It is understood the council is now putting the final touches to plans for a voluntary register of all lobbyists - including charity lobbyists and those based in-house - that adhere to certain standards of transparency.

One source in regular contact with the council said this week: 'It is producing a lot of documents and talking about kitemarks if you abide by its code of conduct. Anyone that doesn't have one would be branded a rogue operator.'

The lobbyist overseeing the council's work, Foresight Consulting MD Mark Adams, declined to speak about the plans before the publication of an 'issues paper' next week.

The Government has yet to respond to the public administration select committee's report calling for greater transparency in lobbying (PRWeek, 9 January).

Initially, Cabinet Office minister Tom Watson planned to respond by 5 March but last week he indicated that the Government was still not close to giving a verdict.

Answering a question by Labour MP Gordon Prentice, Watson said: 'The Government will respond in due course. Before responding, the Government has felt it important to consult a range of interested parties, including individuals and organisations engaged in lobbying activity and organisations that can offer advice on the experience of other countries, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).'

PRWeek previously revealed that Watson was planning to visit the OECD to speak to experts in the field of 'proprietary ethics' (PRWeek, 6 March).

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