Public Affairs: Soap Box - Matt Bryant, director, Connect Communications

Labour and Conservative plans to ban public sector lobbying will do nothing to strengthen democracy or transparency.

The need to respond to the appalling lobbying claims made by certain MPs is understandable - but the claims of Byers and co bear little relation to the world of professional political consultancy.

Lobbying plays a legitimate and vital role in a democratic society. Any decent political communications programme helps to inform the debate.

So why should the public sector be denied the right to inform our legislative process, and why should lobbying become the preserve of big business? It cannot be wrong for organisations to communicate with backbench MPs, local councillors and opposition politicians just because they are publicly funded.

The Government should reflect on what lobbying means and understand the value of what we do. A prohibitive approach to reform will only pervert the democratic process. Public sector bodies will still need to communicate; stopping them buying professional 'lobbying' will not save public money as the same resources will be diverted in-house and to different comms budgets.

Hopefully, after the election, a more rational and informed thinking will emerge that works to rebuild public confidence.

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