Public Affairs: APPC pledges to be 'proactive'

Consultants' body keen to exert influence over government plans.

The Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) has pledged to become more proactive and defend members' interests as the Government looks to register lobbyists.

Amid concerns by members that it had failed to be robust enough in its comms strategy, the APPC management committee met on 5 July. It was decided the association should take a more proactive approach - a decision endorsed by members at a meeting on 20 July.

APPC chair Helen Johnson said members were looking to the body to defend their industry and 'put lobbying within the context of everything else that is going on around it'. She added: 'The APPC should take a more robust and proactive line in communications, to include being the voice of the industry, defending the interests of members and the role of public affairs consultants.'

As reported by (16 July), the UK Public Affairs Council has developed a prototype version of the lobbying register it hopes will be adopted by the Government.

The council - established by the APPC, CIPR and PCRA - is keen to exert influence over ministers' plans for a statutory register of lobbyists by producing a detailed blueprint for such a scheme.

In a poll of lobbying firms carried out recently by the APPC, three-quarters of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that self-regulation was working in the UK. The same proportion did, however, support a statutory register of lobbyists, but only if it included all lobbyists.

Although 64 per cent of respondents agreed that a mandatory register of lobbying activities would work better than a voluntary register, 83 per cent thought lobbying trade associations should try to establish a single umbrella body to regulate the ethics and activities of lobbyists, rather than leave it to the Government to introduce some form of mandatory regulation.

The APPC findings echoed a poll published by ComRes last month that found a clear majority of the lobbying industry supported the coalition Government's plans for a statutory register.

Of the 285 lobbyists questioned, 93 per cent were aware of the Government's commitment to introduce a statutory register, with 62 per cent saying they supported it.

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