PRWeek can reveal that the MPs will jet out in October for a week-long trip that will give them a first-hand glimpse of the heavily regulated and scandal-hit US lobbying scene.
The trip to Capitol Hill will form the first phase of the Committee’s keenly anticipated inquiry, which will consider ‘the transparency of the lobbying industry’ and ‘the effectiveness of recent attempts at self-regulation’ (PRWeek, 22 June).
Official hearings are expected to take place later in the year, once the MPs have waded through the written evidence.
Committee member Paul Rowen said Washington had been chosen because the lobbying industry is ‘very well developed over there’.
The Liberal Democrat MP added: ‘It provides a useful international comparison to what’s happening locally. There are a lot more issues about lobbying in the US and the way it’s affected several politicians. We thought there could be some interesting lessons that we could pick up.’
ichael Burrell, vice-chairman at Edelman Europe, said: ‘I imagine their primary reason for going there would be to look at how their statutory system for regulating lobbying works. It’s a very long-established and elaborate system.’
But he warned the MPs against any attempt to replicate the US system in the UK. ‘I think that our self-regulatory system works remarkably well,’ he said. ‘Britain has been pretty much free of significant scandal in this area for many years.
‘If you look at Washington, you’d find it very hard to argue that their elaborate statutory rules-based system leads to a better outcome than our self-regulatory system.’
Meanwhile, AS Biss this week opened its own Washington DC office, after hiring top US lobbyist Matt Decker to run it. Decker is a former adviser to the British Embassy in Washington.