Lobbyists welcome Mawer all-party groups report

The public affairs industry has welcomed Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Sir Philip Mawer’s recommendations following his inquiry into the conduct of all-party groups.

An investigation by The Times in January found that six APGs breached parliamentary rules. They declared the  PA consultants that provided the groups with administrative and financial assistance, but failed to name the client.

Mawer has recommended the closing of a loophole, by which consultants used the ‘device of funding the assistance out of the general fee income of the firm rather than by a specific grant, or at the specific request of, a named client’.

He also said charities involved in APGs should reveal the name of firms that gave more than £5,000. He upheld complaints against three APGs, all of which receive secretariat support from Luther Pendragon.

PRCA PA committee chair Rod Cartwright said he was ‘heartened by the recognition that transparency must extend beyond consultants into the corporate, public and not–for-profit sectors’.

APPC management committee member Gavin Devine said Mawer’s report had taken a ‘measured view.’
But Simon Whale, MD of Luther Pendragon, said Mawer had rebuffed its own suggestions – for APGs to have their own websites, for instance – as ‘too onerous’.

Weber Shandwick PA chairman Jon McLeod called on the APPC to ‘explain PA and avoid journalists relying on preconceptions’.

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