The Guardian splashed today with an exposé developed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that focused on lobbying by the British financial services industry.
It revealed the industry spent £92m last year on lobbying politicians and regulators in an ‘economic war of attrition’. Business Secretary Vince Cable responded to the findings by stating that the banking sector was ‘disproportionately influential’.
One agency that featured widely in the piece was Cicero Consulting, whose chief corporate counsel Iain Anderson questioned the figures.
‘The macro £92m figure is meaningless without context.’ He added: ‘It should not be surprising that a sector of this scale is taking part in the public policy debate.
‘While controversial issues such as the regulatory debate often hit the headlines, the industry is responsible for countless policy changes that have real social benefit that would never come about without this spend by the sector,’ he added.
Cicero has been listed as spending £1.7m on public affairs for 17 financial services clients including Barclays Group, Aberdeen Asset Management and the Swiss Bankers Association.
Francis Ingham, PRCA Chief Executive, said: ‘Lobbying is an absolutely integral part of the democratic process. The City and its regulatory framework are rightly subject to much political debate. So it is absolutely correct that the City's voice should be heard.
‘The argument that making your side of the case is somehow improper is patently absurd. The prejudiced view that only those whose industry you like should have the right to lobby is the antithesis of everything good journalism should stand for.’
CEO of the CIPR Jane Wilson said: ‘The Bureau of Investigative Journalism considers lobbying activity to be somehow illegitimate, despite it being a fundamental part of the democratic process which helps to produce better policy and legislation.
Wilson added that the BIJ report highlights ‘the need for the Government to get their definition of lobbying right’.
‘Of the 134 organisations identified as lobbying the Government on financial services issues, only 38 would have been included in the statutory register of lobbyists as proposed by the Government’s consultation document.’