The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) Public Affairs Board – the professional body which represents the lobbying industry – has called on the Government to adopt six urgent recommendations to improve transparency, accountability, and trust in the UK political system.
The proposals aim to restore confidence in the political decision-making process and follow yesterday’s decision by the Government to open an inquiry into David Cameron’s lobbying activity for Greensill Capital.
The PRCA Public Confidence Plan for Reform entails:
- The Lobbying Act should be expanded to cover all of those engaged in lobbying – the inclusion of in-house lobbyists is crucial for public confidence. The scope of the Act should be expanded to cover those working in-house in charities, campaigning groups, think tanks, trade unions, business, organisations and private companies.
- The interactions covered by the Act should be expanded to include Special Advisers and senior civil servants, from Director General level up.
- The Government should extend the existing limitations on former Ministers taking paid lobbying positions and institute a five-year ban, including on in-house roles. Former Ministers should consistently behave in the spirit of the Nolan Principles.
- Ministers should stop ignoring the rules under which they are legally obliged to publish Ministerial Diaries in a timely manner.
- The process governing the award of Parliamentary Passes should be reviewed and tightened significantly – the PRCA will conduct its own study given the lack of Government and Parliamentary progress on this issue.
- The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists should no longer allow registrants to declare self-written and self-policed codes which are neither independent nor independently enforceable.
PRCA Public Affairs Board Chair Liam Herbert commented:
“The Lobbying Act is unfit for purpose. This inquiry is an opportunity for the government to reset its approach to lobbying regulation. Our industry has made concerted efforts uphold to public confidence but it’s now time for politicians to do the same. We stand ready to assist the government with these changes.”