Industry bodies outline next steps to regulate lobbyists

The UK public affairs industry will have a new self-regulatory body by early next year, under plans drawn up by the industry's three main representative bodies.

The APPC, CIPR and PRCA have explained how they hope to inject greater transparency into lobbying.

The three bodies propose: 'A new organisation, to be known as the UK Public Affairs Council (PAC), should be established at the earliest opportunity in 2010.

'Membership of the PAC will be through the three signatory regulatory membership bodies, the APPC, CIPR and PRCA, plus, at an early opportunity, the PAC will examine which other appropriate regulated membership bodies might also be invited to join.'

An 'implementation team' is now being established to take forward the detailed issues to be resolved.

The team will be chaired by Sir Philip Mawer, the Prime Minister's independent adviser on ministers' interests and former parliamentary commissioner for standards, dubbed the 'Commons sleaze buster' by the press.

The latest plans were revealed in a joint statement this week. The APPC, CIPR and PRCA now intend to consult their memberships on the proposals.

The new plans state that the PAC will 'seek to be the self-regulatory body for all involved in lobbying institutions of government, or advising on the lobbying of institutions of government ...

'It will promote openness, transparency and high standards of professional conduct through the maintenance of a publicly available register and enforceable standards of behaviour.'

Once the council is up and running, it is expected to be chaired by 'a senior independent person of stature, from outside the public affairs industry, and will draw on others from outside the industry'. As revealed by PRWeek earlier this year (1 May), the industry bodies plan to award a kite mark to organisations that sign up to the council.

This week's statement reads: 'The Public Affairs Council will work to establish a kite mark awarded to member organisations meeting the standards defined by the PAC.

'Withdrawal of the kite mark would be one of the sanctions available against members found to be in breach of the required standards.'

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