PRCA withdraws from UK Public Affairs Council


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

December 9, 2011 | 3 min read

The PRCA today withdrew from the UK Public Affairs Council (UKPAC), endorsing the Government’s decision to introduce a statutory register of public affairs practitioners.

The body believes that such a register should be held by an independent body, and sit alongside the existing model of self-regulation.

The PRCA, who founded UKPAC alongside the CIPR and APPC in 2010, has worked since then to make a voluntary register. It has said that it has become ‘increasingly disillusioned over the past year with UKPAC’s failure to make that register complete’.

Sally Costerton, PRCA chairman, said: “For the past eighteen months, we have worked hard alongside our partners within UKPAC to find the best route forward for the public affairs industry. It is with regret that we have reluctantly concluded that UKPAC will not be able to deliver the statutory register that the Government has decided to introduce. Thanks to repeated delays and inaccuracies in its work, UKPAC simply lacks the credibility and competence to meet the Government’s objectives.

“We have therefore concluded that the register is best held by an independent body, and should include all those who work in public affairs –not just those employed in multi-client consultancies.

“An independently-held register will support the self-regulatory procedures that are already established in our industry –the Professional Charter and Public Affairs Code of Conduct that our members abide by, and the equivalent Codes operated by other professional bodies.

“We would now urge the Government to deliver such a register without further delay.”

Jane Wilson, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), has said in response to the announcement: "This is a disappointing move by the PRCA and as far we know comes without any consultation with the board of UKPAC or the CIPR or APPC as joint founding bodies. The PRCA have set out their reasons, but we think the decision to quit UKPAC is a potentially counterproductive move, especially in the current circumstances.

"The CIPR believes industry unity is the key to ensuring that the current negative impressions of lobbying in the media do not lead to over-regulation of our industry. On the eve of the publication of a consultation on a statutory register and in the light of events this week, this move means the industry voice will be less collective, which is highly regrettable.

"As we have made clear in recent statements from CIPR, the lobbying profession has nothing to fear from a statutory register and the government should now get the consultation published and introduce one as soon as possible.

"As a statutory register is looking increasingly likely, it has to be an open register that has no 'good cause' exemptions and covers everyone who seeks to influence public policy, regardless of their motivation, on an organised basis. Further delay extends the current period in which ethical, professional lobbyists who operate to the highest of standards of transparency and disclosure risk being tarred with the same brush as unprofessional elements who bring the industry into disrepute."


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