The PRCA – the professional body which represents and regulates the majority of the public affairs industry- today welcomed new, tougher guidance from the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists.
The Registrar today published his conclusions following consultation with the public affairs industry on two areas: the regulation of communication with Ministers; and the relevance and declaration of Codes of Conduct. In doing so, he accepted all of the PRCA’s central recommendations. The changes will result in greater transparency and accountability in the public affairs industry.
The Registrar has decided to make a number of key changes:
– A code of conduct that requires no more than adherence to general, good professional behaviour is unlikely to ‘govern the carrying on the business of consultant lobbying’. A relevant code of conduct must instead provide guidance on specific aspects of consultant lobbying.
– Registrants will be required to sign a formal written undertaking confirming their adherence to a code of conduct.
– Self-written codes are ‘unlikely’ to be considered fit for purpose.
– The occasional but concerning practice of lobbyists declaring they adhere to Codes of organisations to which they do not belong is ‘unlikely to be a “relevant” code and could not be claimed by the registrant’.
– Codes that apply only to individuals would not be considered relevant unless the registrant provided evidence that the code applies to the entire business, not just to themselves.
– The number of registerable activities in relation to written and oral communications with Ministers will be expanded.
To read the PRCA’s response, please click here.
To read the Registrar’s conclusions, please click here.
Neha Khatwani MPRCA, Public Affairs, Policy, and Research Manager, PRCA said:
“We strongly welcome the Registrar’s conclusions, because these changes will deliver enhanced transparency and accountability. Crucially, they will clamp down on the small minority of lobbyists outside of the PRCA who have used loopholes to pretend that they are accountable, when in fact they are not.”
“We are delighted that the Registrar has agreed with us that self-written, self-policed Codes are unlikely to comply with the legislation. And we welcome the crackdown on agencies that claim to be regulated as a whole when only a handful of their staff actually are. The public has a right to know which lobbying agencies subscribe to independently-enforced Codes, and these changes will make that goal much easier.”
“We will now work with the Registrar to ensure that our members are fully aware of the changes. We will also reach out to the minority of the industry that has eschewed self-regulation, and urge them to sign up to our Code of Conduct.”