Public Affairs: Soap Box - Warwick Smith, managing partner, College Public Policy

Let's look at what David Cameron really said beneath the hyperbole and headlines about free lunches.

Almost unnoticed, he also said 'lobbying is perfectly reasonable' and 'lobbying often makes for better, more workable, legislation'. Roger Helmer MEP subsequently argued: 'Listening to lobbyists is a fundamental part of my work, and I make no apology for it. Let's stop demonising them.'

Sure, the caveats were rightly that lobbying should be done openly and honestly; and the information provided should be tested. That's a good thing.

The APPC, PRCA and the CIPR have developed the 'guiding principles' to govern how lobbyists should behave: openly and honestly. They are developing the UK Public Affairs Council to bring all lobbyists within the tent of independent, voluntary registration and regulation. And that's not just the minority in third-party consultancies: we need the in-house majority to join in too.

Then there would be no case for more draconian measures being forced on us, and undermining the Magna Carta right 'to declare the transgression and petition that we make amends without delay'.

The barons felt it right to provide for lobbying as a bulwark of democracy, as did the US in the First Amendment. So I don't feel threatened so long as lobbyists act reasonably and responsibly.

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