Phillips Review a 'mixed bag' for PA

Last week's keenly awaited report on party funding contains mixed blessings for PA practitioners, according to one agency chief.

The report was commissioned by Tony Blair in the wake of ‘cash for honours' allegations.

It proposes a donation limit of circa £50,000 from individuals or organisations, increased state funding and a cut in spending between elections.

Martin Le Jeune, founding director of Open Road, said the proposed system could present opportunities for public affairs firms.

He told PRWeek: ‘Because of the overall limit on donations going to £50,000, there will be fresh emphasis within the parties themselves to raise money through events, selling space at party conferences, sponsorship deals, and so on.'

He added: ‘I think there will be a greater menu of opportunities for us.'

But Le Jeune, who was previously head of PA at BSkyB, warned that the new system could further damage the reputation of lobbyists. ‘On the downside, I don't see this as substantially restoring public confidence in the system,' he said.

‘So you will be ever more mindful of anything that could be seen as tantamount to buying influence - which is a very dangerous accusation to be made,' he added.

The report was the culmination of a year-long inquiry by former Whitehall mandarin Sir Hayden Phillips. It has been welcomed by the Prime Minister and Jack Straw, leader of the Commons, as a basis for negotiation.

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