Cabinet Office names Alison White preferred candidate for lobbying registrar

The Cabinet Office has revealed former Royal Mail commercial director Alison White as its preferred candidate to oversee the introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists.

White, also a former head of the National Pharmacy Association, is to appear before the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee tomorrow to answer questions about her suitability for the role.

The role of registrar is a part-time position charged with overseeing the establishment and day-to-day management of the register, which the Government has pledged to introduce before the next election.

Iain Anderson, chairman of the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC), welcomed the impending appointment.

"I welcome Alison White to her new post and I wish them well with the task ahead. The APPC will be seeking to continue our constructive dialogue with the Cabinet Office and with the Office of the Lobbying Registrar between now and 7 May in order to ensure that the new registrar takes on board the concerns that have been raised by our members," said Anderson.

He added: "With just over eight months before the general election the job of establishing the new lobbying register will be no mean feat. The registrar will need to consult fully with all interested stakeholders, will have to develop a user-friendly and secure website on which to host the new register and will have to allow third-party lobbyists a number of months in which to compile the correct data for inclusion on the first register entry."

The appointment was described as "interesting" by the director-general of the wider PR and public affairs trade body PRCA.

PRCA director-general Francis Ingham said: "It’s an interesting appointment, but one which raises several questions – notably centred around how much the candidate knows about the real, practical world of lobbying.

"Distinguishing these realities from the myths and misconceptions that often rear their head is essential to commanding the respect of the Government, the industry and the public. I’m sure the PCR Committee will raise these questions and more.

"A practical experience of lobbying in real terms – rather than abstract legalese or narrow definitions – is categorically the best way to start this role and to that end we would like to reiterate our earlier public invitation. Shadow our members with us, gain the fullest understanding of the work they do and appreciate how this legislation will practically affect them.
"I certainly hope Alison White accepts our longstanding offer. We look forward to informing their work, to assisting their office in this start-up stage and to ensuring that our industry has Lobbying Act clarity it seeks."

Alison White: career history

  • Early in White's career she held posts at Royal Mail as consumer and small business director, group mergers and acquisitions director and operations director for Royal Mail International
  • She went on to become managing director of Primecare, part of Nestor Healthcare Group, before joining Business Link London, where she worked as interim chief executive
  • In 2007 she was appointed chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA). She became the first non-pharmacist to lead the NPA in its 86-year history
  • In 2008 she left her role as NPA chief executive after just six months
  • In January 2009 she become chief executive of Business Link West Midlands
  • In December 2009 she was appointed as interim chief executive and registrar of the General Dental Council.

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