Support for ’quarantine’ for ministerial advisers

Prominent members of the lobbying industry have come out in support of proposals to impose a tighter ’quarantine period’ for ministerial special advisers going into public affairs consultancy.

Prominent members of the lobbying industry have come out in support

of proposals to impose a tighter ’quarantine period’ for ministerial

special advisers going into public affairs consultancy.



Following newspaper allegations earlier this month that lobbyists had

advance access to Government information, the Prime Minister has asked

Sir Richard Wilson, the cabinet secretary to consider strengthening the

rules on special advisers becoming lobbyists. This will form part of

Wilson’s ongoing review of the guidance on contact between civil

servants and special advisers and lobbyists.



Current rules specify that, in certain circumstances involving a

potential conflict of interest, special advisers leaving Government need

to obtain the agreement of the civil service’s advisory committee on

business appointments.



The committee can impose a two year ban on taking up a job.



Patrick Rock, a former Tory Home Office special adviser who joined

public affairs agency the Public Policy Unit as a director after the

general election last year said: ’I can see the argument for a

straightforward breathing space. As a special adviser, you do see other

department’s papers. If you have a clear rule there will be no room for

arguments.’



Colin Byrne, managing director of Shandwick public affairs and a former

deputy to minister without portfolio Peter Mandelson when he headed

Labour party communications warned that: ’We have to get this into

context. None of the people caught in the Observer’s trap were special

advisers on the public payroll who had left Government to go into

lobbying. On the other hand we have to accept Government needs to show

it is watertight on these issues.’



Leader, p9.



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