No lobbying measures in Tory manifesto, but APPC and PRCA (again) call for reform

In contrast to Labour and the Lib Dems, the Conservative Party manifesto makes no mention of changes to lobbying regulation - but the APPC are PRCA are arguing for post-election reform.

The Labour manifesto, launched on Tuesday, pledged to create a "tougher statutory register of lobbyists" if elected. On Wednesday, the Lib Dems said they would "strengthen and expand the lobbying register and prohibit MPs from accepting paid lobbying work".

The Conservative manifesto contains no reference to the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists (ORCL), which was established by 2014 legislation created by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.

A number of stakeholders, including ORCL itself, have protested that the current register does not constitute robust regulation or significant transparency, in particular because of its narrow definition of 'lobbying' and its omission of in-house lobbyists.

In a speech to the Public Relations Institute of Ireland in Dublin this morning, APPC chair Mark Glover said it was "time for a frank and open debate about what is working, what is not working and to find ways to build a better, more comprehensive register covering all lobbyists".

"While the Conservative manifesto does not directly address any changes to the current registration system, we hope that Conservatives remain open-minded about reforming the scope of the Statutory Lobbying Register post-election," the head of the public affairs trade body went on to say.

Also reacting to the manifesto, PRCA director-general Francis Ingham said he was "disappointed" by the omission.

"Our view remains consistent - current lobbying regulation is unfit for purpose. The lobbying regulator's remit should be expanded to cover all of those who lobby... in the absence of that change, the lobbying regulator serves no useful purpose whatsoever," Ingham argued.

Read next: Labour manifesto promises toughened lobbying regulation, support for BBC and new measures for media plurality

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