Editorial: Where's the register of lobbyists?

One of the omissions of last week's Queen's Speech was any reference to legislation to bring the lobbying industry under control.

Share

The programme set out in last week’s Queen’s Speech is, in several ways, more notable for what it left out than for what it included. One of the omissions was any reference to legislation to bring the lobbying industry under control.

In lobbying, as in newspapers, there is an old argument about whether self-regulation is better than government involvement. In 2010, three professional bodies came together to form the UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC) to “promote and uphold effective self-regulation for those professionally engaged in public affairs”. The idea was to persuade the Government that there was no need to legislate, because the industry could police itself. To that end, UKPAC launched a voluntary register of lobbyists and public relations professionals.

The attempt by the industry to keep its own house in order came to grief, however, with The Independent’s explosive report revealing executives at Bell Pottinger boasting about access to the Government and using the dark arts to bury bad coverage. One of UKPAC’s founding bodies, the Public Relations Consultants Association, which represents hundreds of PR agencies and individuals, pulled out on the grounds that UKPAC was incapable of producing an effective register. The PRCA’s view was that the Government would have to legislate.

There is nothing innately dishonourable about lobbying. When new legislation is being drafted or put through Parliament, there is no reason why the industries or interest groups affected should not hire professionals to argue their case – so long as it is done openly.

But three years ago, David Cameron warned that the lobbying industry is “the next big scandal waiting to happen” – not because of lobbyists operating out in the open, but because of the commercial lobbying that is carried on out of sight, sometimes done by people who do not even admit to being lobbyists, but pose as something else. For them, a voluntary register is not a deterrent. A statutory register that makes secret lobbying illegal would be.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

C# Web Developer (C#, MS Dynamics CRM, SQL, SQl Server) London

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Oracle developer- (Oracle, PL/SQL, UNIX/LINUX) - Trade- London

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in prov...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Scottish independence: ‘I am as British and European as Scottish’

Sir Menzies Campbell
 

We should applaud Mary Berry for her bold views on assisted dying

Chloe Hamilton
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering