Public Affairs: Soap Box - Helen Johnson

Helen Johnson, chair, Association of Professional Political Consultants.

Why is everyone in a hurry to write off self-regulation of the lobbying profession? I'm pleased to report that, the Government's commitment to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists notwithstanding, reports of the APPC's death are greatly exaggerated.

APPC members have little to fear from statutory registration: all APPC members are required to disclose their consultants and clients on the APPC register. Far from putting clients and firms off, the APPC now has 63 members, representing a total of more than 1,800 clients.

But a statutory register must encompass everyone - there is little to be gained by regulating the same sector of the profession that already submits to registration voluntarily, without also extending registration to all who lobby in a professional capacity. That includes in-house practitioners.

Can a register alone deliver transparency and openness? Of course not; it must be underpinned by a self-regulatory framework, which fosters a culture of transparency and enforces compliance with codes of conduct.

That is why the APPC exists and why we support the UK Public Affairs Council. It's an important development for extending our self-regulatory framework and we look forward to playing a key role in ensuring its success.

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