The Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) has issued its response to the Cabinet Office draft regulations on the lobbying register, requesting ’emergency guidance’ to clarify who exactly will be covered by the legislation.
The Cabinet Office consultation on the regulations began on the 11th September and closed on the 17th October.
The APPC notes in its submission that: “The primary legislation is flawed and could in fact serve to reduce transparency, particularly by failing to include all those who engage in lobbying on a professional basis. In addition, the legislation is so narrowly framed that it could be simple for any organisation to avoid the need to register.”
Alison White was appointed to the role of Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists in September and needs to introduce the register by the end of this parliament to meet the Government’s pledge to legislate on lobbying.
The APPC’s submission highlights questions that remain over fundamental definitions in the regulations, including what “direct communication” with ministers or officials constitutes.
The APPCs submission notes that: “Until there is a clear definition… it will be difficult, if not impossible, for most of our members to determine whether they need to register.”
APPC chairman Iain Anderson said: “There are a number of issues on which the registrar needs to issue clear guidance to third-party lobbyists, in particular offering a strong lead on what defines ‘direct communications’ at the earliest opportunity to ensure that APPC members are able to fully prepare for the launch of the lobbying register.”
“Our members are also very anxious to ensure that the funding and registration structure does not cause an undue financial or bureaucratic burden.
“However, our own estimates show that far fewer third-party lobbyists are likely to register than the Government estimates, with the risk that a smaller number of registrants could be saddled with a high cost of registration. We are seeking reassurances that the cost structure will be fair and flexible.”