The joint initiative is an attempt by the lobbying world to show a united front ahead of an investigation by MPs on the Public Administration Committee, which is expected to start before Christmas. The MPs are expected to grill agency bosses who refuse to keep a permanent public register of their clients.
The new code is intended to complement, rather than replace, existing codes of conduct. It states that lobbyists should ‘always be clear and precise about your identity and any organisation you represent, either directly or on an advisory basis’.
The code falls short of requiring lobbying agencies to disclose their full client list – something that campaigners such as the Labour backbencher John Grogan are pushing for.
Those involved in the joint initiative were optimistic about the message it would send to sceptical MPs. CIPR president Lionel Zetter said: ‘This set of guiding principles demonstrates the determination of the three largest bodies representing the public affairs industry to work together to drive up standards.’
PRCA public affairs committee chair Rod Cartwright said: ‘We hope this initiative will help create a more balanced debate about lobbying, and perhaps play some role in helping to improve the standing of politics overall.’