Boardman report “a step in the right direction” but fails to address key transparency concerns

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has rejected the conclusion of the Boardman Review that requiring everyone seeking to influence public policy to place themselves on a register would be an undue burden. The report says this “may have the have the result of silencing those who would wish occasionally to contribute to a public debate, but are concerned that it might require them to register”.

The second part of the Boardman review into the UK’s lobbying regulations – commissioned by the Prime Minister and published yesterday evening – calls for former ministers and Senior Civil Servants who engage in lobbying to be included on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists “irrespective of whether they are employed or a consultant”. The review, however, rejects calls for the register to be extended beyond consultant lobbyists for others, as outlined in the CIPR’s lobbying position paper.

Among the recommendations on lobbying, the review calls for an extension of those required to register as a consultant lobbyist, a required statutory code of conduct for registered lobbyists, and for the government to strengthen its transparency through more frequent and detailed reporting. Under what circumstances lobbying communications should be registerable is also recommended.

There are many well-thought-out recommendations within this report but, ultimately, it falls short of addressing concerns around a lack of transparency. The lobbying industry is clear; we’re proud of our work, we want to be transparent, and we want to do it on a level playing field. These proposals fail to do that. Although they would increase the numbers of those required to register, that requirement is still focused on those being paid by clients and who is doing the lobbying rather than the lobbying itself. We are adamant that a lobbying register needs to capture activity irrespective of who does it. This is a step in the right direction but leaves us with a two-tiered approach to transparency, and will ultimately do little to improve public confidence.

Rachael Clamp Chart.PR, FCIPR, Chair of CIPR Public Affairs

Read the CIPR’s lobbying position paper here.

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