MP urges Westminster to boycott non-APPC firms

A Labour backbencher is to spearhead a new drive to get all public affairs consultancies signed up to the APPC's Code of Practice.

John Grogan is drafting a parliamentary motion that will urge MPs and public bodies to boycott agencies that are not members of the Association of Professional Political Consultants.

The Early Day Motion is likely to be tabled in the next couple of months.

Grogan, former comms co-ordinator at Leeds Council and current MP for Selby, was overseas and unavailable for comment. But an APPC source said the MP always demanded to know if lobbyists were members of the association and that he wanted colleagues to take the same approach.

The source added: ‘John is particularly concerned about lack of disclosure. He will be tabling an EDM supporting the APPC, encouraging parliamentarians to be transparent and encouraging public bodies to require membership of the APPC as a contract pre-requisite.'

Grogan has already met with APPC chair Gill Morris and committee member Gavin Devine to discuss the idea. Morris stressed the plan was still in the early stages but added: ‘I am 100 per cent supportive of John Grogan's initiative.'

The proposed EDM is seen as significant because it will be the first time an MP has publicly said that he only wishes to deal with those agencies that operate according to the APPC code.

But the APPC is also anxious that the EDM does not open the door to heavy government regulation. It is understood that the association plans to liaise with Grogan over the exact wording to ensure it is not opposed by MPs or used to encourage statutory regulation.

APPC has 39 members but some major agencies - including Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, embroiled in the Brown Book row - are not signed up. BPPA chair Peter Bingle declined to comment on the EDM.

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