Industry trade bodies split over Boardman lobbying review

Industry bodies are divided over the findings of the Boardman review’s recommendations on lobbying, with the PRCA welcoming them while the CIPR says they ‘do not go far enough’.

Momentum is growing for reform to the way lobbying is regulated
Momentum is growing for reform to the way lobbying is regulated

The review, led by Nigel Boardman, was commissioned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in response to the Greensill lobbying scandal involving former PM David Cameron.

Its review's final report calls for all former ministers and senior officials who engage in lobbying to be included on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists "irrespective of whether they are employed or a consultant".

Other recommendations include having a statutory code of conduct for registered lobbyists, and for the Government to strengthen its transparency through more frequent and detailed reporting. 

The review stopped short of calling for in-house lobbyists to be made to register, as “the burden of registration may be disproportionate to the benefits achieved”.

The PRCA’s Public Affairs Board welcomed the review’s findings.

Its chair, Liam Herbert, said: “Mr Boardman's report echoes what we’ve been saying for months – that the Lobbying Act is not fit for purpose. As our own six-point plan clearly states, accountability and trust need to be put to the top of the agenda. And this starts with all lobbyists being registered and accountable, publicly declaring who they are working for, and at the same time ministers publishing in an accurate and timely manner their diaries and meetings.”

He added: “We welcome this report and note that lobbying is vital to our democracy, but it must be ethical and transparent. We trust the Government will now reflect seriously on Mr Boardman’s recommendations.”

Failure to 'address transparency'

However, the report “falls short of addressing concerns around a lack of transparency”, according to Rachael Clamp, chair of public affairs at the CIPR.

“The lobbying industry is clear; we're proud of our work, we want to be transparent, and we want to do it on a level playing field. These proposals fail to do that. Although they would increase the numbers of those required to register, that requirement is still focused on those being paid by clients and who is doing the lobbying rather than the lobbying itself.”

She added: “We are adamant that a lobbying register needs to capture activity irrespective of who does it. This is a step in the right direction but leaves us with a two-tiered approach to transparency, and will ultimately do little to improve public confidence.”

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