PRCA publishes open letter to Government on lobbying reform

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Rt Hon Chloe Smith MP and Rt Hon Julia Lopez MP,

The PRCA, as the self-regulatory body for the public affairs industry, is deeply concerned at the impact of recent reports regarding Mr Cameron, Greensill, civil service second jobs, and related matters on public confidence in the political decision-making process.
 
As recent polling has shown, this issue extends beyond the Westminster bubble and has created widespread public concern.
 
We believe that there are six immediate changes which should be made:
 
1. 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.

2. The interactions covered by the Act should be expanded to include Special Advisers and senior civil servants, from Director General level up.

3. 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. 

4. Ministers should stop ignoring the rules under which they are legally obliged to publish Ministerial Diaries in a timely manner.

5. 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.

6. 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.
 
The public affairs industry takes this issue incredibly seriously. Our members declare all of their clients on a quarterly basis -not just those on whose behalf they contact Ministers or Permanent Secretaries directly; they declare the names of all of their staff on a quarterly basis -not just the names of their Directors; they adhere to a rigorous Code of Conduct; they are prohibited from the holding of Parliamentary Passes.
 
We believe that it is time for the Government to change its processes and the law so that they meet those same standards. We would urge the Government to do speedily in the public interest -in doing so, it will find a willing and collaborative partner in the public affairs industry.

Yours sincerely,

Liam Herbert CMPRCA,
PRCA Public Affairs Board Chair

About the PRCA
The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is the world’s largest professional PR body.

We represent more than 35,000 PR professionals in 70 countries worldwide. With offices in London, Singapore, Dubai, and Buenos Aires, we are a global advocate for excellence in public relations.

Our mission is to create a more professional, ethical, and prosperous PR industry. We champion - and enforce - professional standards in the UK and overseas through our Professional Charter and Code of Conduct. The Code compels members to adhere to the highest standards of ethical practice.

Our Public Affairs Board represents professional practice in lobbying by campaigning for transparency through a joint register and enforcing high standards through the Public Affairs Code. The PRCA Public Affairs Register can be viewed here.

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