Ministers Don’t Publish Legally Required Diaries of Meetings

It seems that Guido writes this story every few years when a lobbying scandal blows-up. The self-regulating Public Relations Consultants Association’s Public Affairs Board has, again, called for urgent reforms to the “unfit” Lobbying Act, which was introduced when David Cameron was Prime Minister. Ironic.

The PRCA’s six-point “Public Confidence Plan for Reform” entails:

  • The Lobbying Act should be expanded to cover all of those engaged in lobbying, including those working in-house in charities, campaigning groups, think tanks, trades unions, businesses, organisations and private companies.
  • Interactions covered by the Act should be expanded to include Special Advisers and senior civil servants, from director-general level up.
  • The Government should extend the existing limitations on former ministers taking paid lobbying positions to at least a five-year ban. This includes in-house roles. Former ministers should be required to behave in the spirit of the Nolan Principles.
  • Ministers should stop ignoring the rules under which they are legally obliged to publish Ministerial Diaries in a timely manner.
  • The process governing the award of parliamentary passes should be reviewed and tightened significantly. The PRCA said it will conduct its own study, given the lack of Government and Parliamentary progress on this issue.
  • 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 current Lobbying Act is not fit for purpose because many lobbyists simply do not declare they are lobbyists – Peter Mandelson for example. Ministers don’t declare their meetings as promised (a promise that Labour also made to do in opposition and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is supposed to do). If politicians won’t publish their diaries as required, what hope is there that lobbyists will come clean about meeting them?

mdi-timer 13 April 2021 @ 10:12 13 Apr 2021 @ 10:12 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lobbyists Increasingly Leaning Lib Dem

A study of 159 public affairs professionals carried out by Opinium for PR Week and the PRCA reveals that senior lobbyists are mostly white, male, London-based and right-leaning. Shocker!

The slightly more surprising finding is that the industry that was once dominated by sharp-suited Blairites is now drifting towards the LibDems. They’re the preferred choice of floating voter lobbyists, and second only to Tory lobbyists among committed partisans. As is now fashionable, the overpaid lobbyists (on an average pay of £57,500) are victims too, with a fifth of practitioners having been diagnosed with a mental health condition in the last 5 years. Probably self-loathing…

mdi-timer 16 October 2019 @ 16:21 16 Oct 2019 @ 16:21 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lobbyist’s Gamekeeper Singleton Switches to Poaching

David Singleton who edited Public Affairs News quit as editor some six weeks ago. He is off to WPI Strategy so will no doubt be ethically lobbying on their behalf. He wrote a valedictory piece on his 7 years covering lobbying here. The Dods-owned publication has not been updated since the day he wrote that article on March 8th. Nobody seems to have noticed…

Rumour is that it will be shuttered. Most lobbyists prefer to read Politico nowadays anyway…

mdi-timer 23 April 2019 @ 14:25 23 Apr 2019 @ 14:25 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Tory People’s Vote Campaign Using Undeclared Lobbyists

The Tory People’s Vote campaign, ‘Right to Vote’, has not exactly been a roaring success since it launched in January, despite being awash with undeclared dark money. Under electoral law, Right to Vote qualify as a members association, like Momentum, and are therefore required to declare any donations over £7,500, even outside election periods. Guido understands that the Electoral Commission will be meeting Right to Vote to remind them of their reporting obligations under electoral law…

Now Guido has learned that Right to Vote have also been engaging the services of lobbyists without declaring them to Parliament. Guido understands that lobbyists Interel Group have been engaged by Right to Vote, with Interel’s Katherine Morgan – a former Treasury civil servant who also worked for the European Commission – working on their behalf. Right to Vote are also engaging the services of Howard Bowden, who is listed as the media contact on their site. Bowden is a freelance PR and former Head of News for now disgraced PR firm Bell Pottinger…

Under Parliamentary rules, MPs receiving support from a lobbying company need to declare this as a donation to the relevant Register of Interests, and check that the donor is a permissible donation with the Electoral Commission. Neither Right to Vote Chairman Phillip Lee nor any of his fellow Right to Vote MPs have declared their use of lobbyists…

What Phillip Lee has declared are two donations in kind from The Common Sense Collective Ltd in the form of “services to assist with media and communications”, to the tune of £7,860. However, these donations appear to be impermissible as their most recent records at Companies House show that Common Sense Collective is a dormant company.

Under electoral law a dormant company cannot make a political donation – it must be registered at Companies House and carrying on business in the UK. Unless Common Sense Collective have resumed trading without yet informing Companies House, Lee will have accepted impermissible donations and will need to forfeit their value to the Electoral Commission…

Right to Vote are certainly not short of cash, just last month they sent a first-class mailshot to every Tory Association Chairman in the country asking them pressure their MPs into support a Brexit “timeout”. Each letter was personalised for every individual constituency, including specific constituency-level voodoo polling from dark money-hungry anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain. The vast array of second referendum campaigns are all flush with buckets of cash from anonymous donors and corporations, yet Guido cannot remember the last time a single broadcaster challenged a Remainer over the source of their funding…

UPDATE: A spokesman for Interel Group tells Guido: “Some colleagues worked with the Right to Vote campaign for two weeks earlier this year. We took the decision to end this. We did not receive any payment and we have declared this in the Public Affairs Board Register as pro bono activity”. Even if it’s pro bono work Lee should still have declared it himself as a donation in kind…

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mdi-timer 7 March 2019 @ 09:05 7 Mar 2019 @ 09:05 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lord Feldman Breaks Lobbyists’ Code

Congratulations to Lord Feldman, the former Conservative Party chairman on becoming Managing Partner for lobbyists Tulchan Communications. The firm’s website boasts that:

“The line between boardroom and political issues is becoming ever more blurred as corporates consider the long-term repercussions of political and regulatory uncertainty. Navigating the world of government is vital if a company is to fully understand its stakeholder environment and manage external risks. Our policy advisory team has extensive government and public policy experience. We help companies identify political risks and counsel them on strategic engagement to best position them with regulatory and political audiences.”

Feldman knows his way round politics. He also knows his way round the rules of the game…

Yesterday the Public Affairs Board issued a new, unified Public Affairs Code for the industry, following a lobbying industry-wide consultation, it comes into effect at the end of this month.

The code and its independent complaints, determination, and disciplinary rules and procedures will apply to the Public Relations and Communications Association’s 30,000 members that conduct public affairs. The PRCA-established definition of public affairs is used in the Code, defined as “activities which are carried out in the course of a business for the purpose of (a) influencing government, (b) or advising others how to influence government.” Services Tulchan and their well connected managing partner self-evidently offer clients.

Under the code lobbyists can’t employ parliamentarians. All this means Lord Feldman and Tulchan Communications are in breach of the new Public Affairs Code. How does he square this problem? Tulchan and Lord Feldman simply haven’t signed up to the code…

mdi-timer 6 February 2019 @ 14:00 6 Feb 2019 @ 14:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lobbyist Trade Groups Merge into “Public Affairs Board”

The Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC) merges today with the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) becoming the official sounding “Public Affairs Board” (PAB). The spin-merchants claim it means that this creates “a single, stronger, united voice for the industry”. Ironically the spin-merchants still have a terrible reputation, partly derived from hiring MPs sacked by the voters, partly because they do slippery things. Of course the dodgiest lobbyists don’t even admit to being lobbyists…

mdi-timer 1 November 2018 @ 11:24 1 Nov 2018 @ 11:24 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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