PACAC misses opportunity to improve lobbying, says PRCA

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) – the professional body that represents the lobbying industry – is disappointed that proposals issued by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), won’t deliver transparency to members of the public, while adding to requirements placed on, and only on, consultant lobbyists.

PACAC’s report, Lobbying and Influence, follows their two-year investigation during which PRCA provided evidence and made proposals for greater transparency.

PRCA chief executive James Hewes said:

“PACAC have missed an opportunity to increase transparency in lobbying. They rightly recognise that the current system is inadequate, with major gaps in reporting requirements. We welcome recommendations that more officials should declare meetings, and WhatsApp messages should be disclosed. PACAC haven’t challenged the failed patchwork approach whereby consultant lobbyists must, rightly, publish their public affairs activity, but others can lobby government without declaring it. This means that the majority of lobbying activity is not visible to the public.

“PRCA believes that the public wants all lobbying activity to be carried out to the same high standards. We are calling for the Lobbying Act to be expanded to cover all of those engaged in lobbying, including those working in-house in charities, campaigning groups, think tanks, trade unions, business, organisations and private companies. The current register fails to capture activity accurately and comprehensively.

“PRCA members are wondering why PACAC are calling for more disclosure from consultant lobbyists but none at all from others, even though, through the PRCA’s Public Affairs Register, PRCA members already provide more details about lobbying activity than required by the Lobbying Act.

“PACAC are right to say that wider scrutiny of this issue is needed, but they have missed the chance to call for it right now. The issue is not settled.”

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