Public Affairs: Ministers expected to back 'kitemark'

Speculation is growing that the Government will back a 'kitemark' for lobbyists when it 'soon' reveals its plans for the public affairs industry.

The Cabinet Office had hoped to publish its plans for lobbying reform last week after a series of delays earlier this year. But plans were still being finalised as PRWeek went to press. A Cabinet Office spokesman would only say that a response would be with the public administration select committee 'soon'.

Industry sources said the voluntary scheme had been well received by the Cabinet Office after it was drawn up by the APPC, CIPR and PRCA (PRWeek, 13 May). The three industry bodies want to establish an umbrella group for all lobbyists, provisionally called the Public Affairs Council. All lobbyists that sign up would adopt the mark. A consultation paper from the three bodies stated: 'Organisations not kitemarked could be presumed not to be compliant with (ethical) standards. Those seeking to use the services of a lobbyist could be guided accordingly.'

One well-placed industry source said: 'Government will back a lobbying "kitemark". To get the mark you will have to be regulated and be on a centralised industry lobbying register, which will contain individuals' names. Sir Philip Mawer will be the regulator.'

Mawer is PM Gordon Brown's independent adviser on ministers' interests and was previously parliamentary commissioner for standards, dubbed the 'Commons sleaze buster' by the press.

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