UKPAC closes and hands responsibility for lobbying register to CIPR

The UK Public Affairs Council has announced that it is closing with immediate effect and handing over responsibility for its register of lobbyists to the CIPR.

Alastair McCapra: CIPR to launch a UK Lobbying Register
Alastair McCapra: CIPR to launch a UK Lobbying Register

In a statement, the UKPAC said it was handing over responsibility for its voluntary register of lobbyists – with more than 400 entries, 1,500 lobbyists and 2,500 clients – to the CIPR.

It said the creation of a statutory registrar of consultant lobbyists had led it to "review its role".

UKPAC wrote to the minister for the Cabinet Office Matthew Hancock to announce that it was winding up as of today. The UKPAC was set up In 2010 after a recommendation by the Public Administration Select Committee to create a public register of lobbyists.

The statement described the register, which is open to the public and free to use, as having addressed "transparency and the equally important issue of standards".

The CIPR announced that it would write to its members and launch its ‘UK Lobbying Register’ next month. It said the list would also be free to search and register, and provide the public with "a channel to complain about the conduct of a registered lobbyist". The CIPR added that it would welcome all lobbyists – whether agency, in-house or freelance – as registrants.

The new register will operate on a voluntary basis, but it will be a requirement of CIPR membership for any members who lobby to join, and registrants will be bound by its code of conduct.

Alastair McCapra, chief executive of the CIPR, said: "The CIPR is committed to promoting transparency and high standards of professional conduct in lobbying. This combined approach represents the best route to increase understanding and public confidence. The new UK Lobbying Register is just one of the tools enabling us to accomplish that objective, being open, universal and free – a resource for the public and industry alike."

The industry gave its reaction to the news of the UKPAC’s closure.

The APPC said it had been "deeply committed to UKPAC's objectives in creating a comprehensive, searchable public database of UK lobbyists". The trade body added that transparency was key as third-party lobbyists navigate the new statutory regime.

The PRCA said only a register that combines in-house and consultancy corporate lobbyists and individuals would have any credibility, and that it had withdrawn from the UKPAC three years ago because of "serious reservations about the register’s credibility and competence".

Francis Ingham, PRCA director general, added: "We wish the CIPR well in its latest endeavour. However, given the fact that many of the CIPR’s lobbyists did not sign up to UKPAC, we hope their enforcement of transparency will be stronger this time."

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