Leaked Labour manifesto pledges ‘tougher’ lobbying register
The APPC welcomed any moves to improve on the current 'not fit for purpose' scheme.
Labour has surprised public affairs industry figures by vowing to repeal the Lobbying Act in its leaked draft general election manifesto.
The draft manifesto pledges to replace the existing lobbying register with a "tougher" scheme – but does not provide any further detail.
The 43-page document was leaked to the Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph, prompting a furious blame game between Jeremy Corbyn's office and the party's HQ.
Among other things, it states: "We will safeguard our democracy by repealing the Lobbying Act, which has gagged charities, and introduce a tougher statutory register of lobbyists."
One public affairs industry source said: "This has come as news to us. We weren’t told it was happening, but I don’t think it will face much opposition from within the industry."
The Association of Professional Political Consultants welcomed any moves to improve the current register, which only covers consultancy lobbyists and does not capture any lobbyists working in-house.
APPC chairman Mark Glover said: "The Government's current statutory register is not fit for purpose - by excluding all in-house public affairs practitioners the register fails to capture over 90% of the UK’s lobbying activity - hardly the revolution in transparency that was promised.
“So we wholeheartedly welcome any moves by political parties to widen the scope of registrants to include all professional lobbyists whether in-house, consultancy or working for law firms and other third party bodies."
However, Glover said it was also vital that any new register recognises the evolving regulatory environment.
He advised: "We now have registers in the EU, Republic of Ireland, Westminster and soon we'll have one in Holyrood too, plus many third-party lobbyists also comply with APPC's register.
"It is vitally important that policy-makers across these countries learn from one another's experiences and work together to develop reporting requirements that limit the bureaucratic onus on registrants and make lobbying compliance something that is effective without being unduly burdensome.
"Our aim is to widen transparency not limit legitimate and much needed public affairs activity. We look forward to seeing if this proposal makes the official Labour manifesto."