London,
06
January
2017

Lobbying industry responds to APPG inquiry

Commenting on the coverage of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists' initial outreach with all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs), Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said: "Once again, this situation reveals the narrow and unworkable definition of lobbying in the Lobbying Act 2014, coupled with some problematic myths and misconceptions about lobbying in the real world.

"Any discussion of APPGs has to recognise the valuable function they serve in offering parliamentarians access to expert insight. Ensuring policymakers in this country are properly informed on the matters they pass laws on is a wholly good thing.

"APPGs rely on outside support in order to function. If the definition of lobbying were broadened to properly cover influencing government or advising others how to influence government, all of those providing secretariat services would immediately fall under the Lobbying Act 2014. Those looking into APPGs will also find a great many involved in-house professionals which are not covered at all by the current regulation. One cannot appear on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists without meeting the definition. If this is the root of the concern expressed by various groups following the Registrar’s comments, this can be entirely remedied by fixing the definition itself.

"Many of our members – all regulated by the industry’s strict and rigorous code of conduct – are involved in APPGs and disclose details on the PRCA Public Affairs and Lobbying Register. This industry always welcomes any and every move to make Parliament more transparent, given how much politicians themselves benefit from the work of these groups. Transparency and disclosure are absolutely key: these are groups set up on a cross-party basis by MPs for MPs and coverage of this seems to have ignored the fact that APPGs have no formal powers to summon ministers. They are not select committees so it is for the Minister or their Office to decide if they attend a meeting.

"The Universities APPG is supported by Universities UK; the Dementia APPG is supported by the Alzheimer’s Society; the Cider APPG is supported by the National Association of Cider Makers. Sometimes organisations such as these will involve the expertise of consultants who assist one organisation or a group of them. There is no fundamental problem with involving further outside expertise here, given the very reason APPGs exists is to bring insight, research, understand, and expertise to the process. Their involvement improves the APPGs’ outputs and decision making is better for it.

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About PRCA

Who we are: Founded in 1969, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is a UK-based PR and communications membership body, operating in 48 countries around the world. We represent in excess of 20,000 people across the whole range of the PR and communications industry. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry's behalf e.g. fighting the NLA's digital licence.

Who we represent: The PRCA currently has more than 400 agency members; 270 in-house PR and communications teams from multinationals, charities and leading public sector organisations; and thousands of individual members.

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Matt Cartmell
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