Ahead of tomorrow’s launch of Standup4Lobbying, I felt it was important to return to one fundamental issue that seems to confuse some of the lobbying profession – are we in favour of voluntary regulation and opposed to statutory regulation?
This issue was actually raised in an email I received from a senior member of the lobbying profession, who told me:
“Personally, I feel quite strongly that the profession needs to be regulated on a statutory basis – years of self regulation have failed and so a charter that accepts self regulation will not, in my view, take us forward. We need a clear line (not a dotted one) to be drawn under the past.”
My colleague having taken the trouble to write, I felt I should reply and would like to reprint my reply here:
“You actually raise a very important point. With the creation of Standup4Lobbying, I have been very careful to try to appeal to those who believe in voluntary regulation and those who believe in statutory regulation.
As a public affairs professional yourself you will certainly understand that if we move towards a statutory regime, it is even more important that we have an effective voice for the profession. We certainly don’t raise the white flag and accept whatever the politicians throw at us. We make sure we shape the regulation so its impact promotes rather than undermines the objective of improving the professionalism of lobbying.
The Lobbyists’ Charter, at the heart of what our campaign will be about, includes the following:
§ Professional lobbyists should be subject to a rigorous Code of Conduct, whether on a self-regulatory or statutory basis, designed to enshrine high professional and ethical standards to the benefit of all
The full Charter is here.
I have certainly made clear my personal view that the case for statutory regulation has not yet been made. I know some colleagues in the profession disagree with me, which I believe is an important debate to be had. However, we need to be having the debate and representing our profession to the government, not sitting on our hands.”
When we open for membership tomorrow, I genuinely hope that we will include those who believe in some form of statutory regulation, or at least statutory underpinning of the voluntary system. And I would welcome an early debate on precisely this issue.