The lobbying industry took a significant step towards establishing
a joint code of conduct on Tuesday (14 July) when the Association of
Professional Political Consultants (APPC), which represents the largest
firms, came out in support of a single code.
The move comes after allegations and current media interest in the
relationship between lobbyists and the Government.
The APPC has traditionally opposed running a joint code with the two PR
trade bodies, the IPR and PRCA. Currently, each body runs a different
code which they police themselves. APPC leaders, including its secretary
Charles Miller, have in the past seen the lobbying industry as distinct
from PR and therefore resisted closer links to the PR bodies.
However, the PRCA represents full service agencies like Hill and
Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller which run large lobbying operations and
are not members of the APPC.
At a meeting on Tuesday evening the APPC, for the first time, came out
in support of a joint code of conduct for lobbyists with the IPR, the
PRCA and the fledgling Scottish lobbyists association.
Michael Burrell, managing director of Westminster Strategy, who chaired
the meeting, said that if Parliament would not police the single code,
the industry bodies aimed to do so jointly.
Burrell said: ’We think it would be extremely desirable for all
consultancies involved in lobbying to be seen to be speaking with one
The APPC asked that GJW and GPC, the two member firms against which
newspaper claims have been made, withdraw their membership pending an
investigation by the association’s professional practices committee into
the agencies’ respective responses to the allegations.
Support for parliamentary regulation of lobbyists was boosted this week
by Robert Sheldon, chairman of the House of Commons standards and
privileges committee, who spoke in favour of parliamentary regulation on
Radio 4’s Today programme.