13th July 2012
Parliamentary Committee Report: Government's Lobbying Register Plans Not Fit for Purpose
The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has published its Report on introducing a statutory register of lobbyists which calls on the Government to “scrap its proposals for a statutory register of third party lobbyists” as not being “fit for purpose”. The original proposal sought only to include consultants, which was widely rejected by public affairs industry representatives as being too narrow an approach. MPs criticised that “While we are not, generally, in favour of this option we believe that no statutory register is better than what the Government currently proposes”.
The Committee was “not convinced that the Government’s current proposals for introducing a statutory register of lobbyists will do much to increase the transparency of lobbying activity in the UK” and “will do nothing to resolve wider public concerns about a lack of transparency around who is meeting whom”. The Committee would instead prefer a “system of medium regulation” that “would include all those who lobby professionally, in a paid role, and would require lobbyists to disclose the issues they are lobbying Government on. In our view, this would improve transparency about lobbying, and help to reduce public concerns about undue influence”.
Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Committee, said "The Government proposals target third party lobbyists, yet would produce little more than the current regime of voluntary regulation, without even a statutory code of conduct to regulate behaviour”.
The Committee’s report, conclusions and recommendations included:
- “The consultation paper is lacking in clear intent from the Government and only limited evidence is put forward to support its proposals. We conclude that a statutory register which includes only third party lobbyists would do little to improve transparency about who is lobbying whom, as these meetings constitute only a small part of the lobbying industry”.
- “If it is the activity of lobbying that is defined, rather than what a lobbyist is, then it should be easier to require anyone who is carrying out the defined activity to be registered as a lobbyist”.
- “However desirable it may be to have a comprehensive register of lobbying activity with full spending disclosures, the regulator needed to enforce such a register would be likely to be very costly. We do not think it would be appropriate to recommend a highly regulated system as a starting point for statutory registration of the lobbying industry in the current economic climate”.
- “We recommend that Departments publish details of ministerial meetings no more than a month after the month in which the meeting occurred” and “recommend that the Government provide the company or charity number of any organisation Ministers meet”.
- “A sum in the region of £200 is not unreasonable for registration and membership of a register, and exemptions could be considered for very small organisations who wish to lobby but could not afford even nominal fees”.
The Report is available for download on the Committee’s website.
9th July 2012
Bryan Johnston Joins Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Energy + Industrials Team
Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ UK Energy + Industrials team has appointed Bryan Johnston as Account Director. Johnston joins H+K from Bell Pottinger Public Affairs and will report to Simon Whitehead, Head of Energy + Industrials.
Johnston’s expertise in public affairs and corporate communications in the energy, environment, infrastructure and transport sector stretches over five years. Prior to joining H+K, he was a Senior Consultant at Bell Pottinger helping to lead their financial and professional services team, working on protecting and enhancing client reputation as well as brand strategy for clients including Emirates, BT, National Grid, Altstom Transport and The Carlyle Group. Johnston was previously a campaign aide for Emily Thornberry MP during the 2010 election.
Simon Whitehead said “Bryan’s expertise in the energy and logistics sector alongside his public affairs experience will add a fantastic dimension to our growing team. With the energy and industrials sector becoming an increasingly complex but exciting and fast moving industry Bryan’s experience complements H+K’s integrated deep sector knowledge”.
3rd July 2012
Zetter’s Political Companion: July Issue Out Now
The July issue of ZPC - number eight - is now out.
This issue has full details of the new Greater London Assembly, elected in May. It also has a full list of Boris Johnson's deputy mayors and advisers.
29th June 2012
Nominations about to close for the Public Affairs News Awards 2012
The Public Affairs News Awards seek to recognise excellence across the public affairs sector. They provide a great opportunity to gain publicity and prestige in the industry. The awards are free to enter and all shortlisted candidates will receive a complimentary ticket to the Awards ceremony in November.
- Rising Star - Individual (Agency)
- Rising Star - Individual (In-House)
- Freelancer of the Year
- Specialist Consultancy of the Year
- Trade Body of the Year
- Innovative Campaign of the Year
- Best Agency to Work For
- Campaign of the Year – Devolved Administrations
- Campaign of the Year – Voluntary Sector
- Campaign of the Year – Private Sector
- Consultant of the Year
- Outstanding Contribution
- In-House Team of the Year
- Consultancy of the Year
- Party Conference Innovation 2012
- Political Tweeter of the Year
You can nominate in as many categories as you would like by clicking here. Nominations close on 1st July.
28th June 2012
Hume Brophy Establishes Local Presence in Paris
Hume Brophy has announced the opening of a new office in Paris, adding to existing offices in Dublin, Brussels and London. The Paris office will be run by Irish-French consultant Eva McKeown-Menseau and deliver public relations and public affairs services to the domestic French market as well as international companies and organisations.
John Hume, founding partner, commented: “Our new Paris office is an exciting and significant step for our company as well as for our existing and prospective clients. In terms of Gross Domestic Product, France is the second largest economy in Europe and the fifth worldwide. The country counts 2.5 million companies and many French companies are global leaders in various industries in which Hume Brophy holds specific expertise such as the Transport, Retail and Banking and insurance industries. I am confident that we will perform well in this new business environment”.
Eva McKeown-Menseau added: "I am extremely pleased to be a key part of the Paris office expansion and eager to bring Hume Brophy’s expertise and resources to our clients in France”.
27th June 2012
Neil Stewart Associates appoints Compass General Secretary as new Director
Gavin Hayes, former general secretary of Compass and “Fair energy” campaigner, has been appointed Editorial Director of Policy Review Intelligence to transform public policy dissemination, consultation and networking in the UK.
Hayes will launch “Policy Review Intelligence” as a unique networking hub, dynamic website, TV portal, and face to face networking for senior policy makers across the UK and Brussels. On starting this new challenge he said:
“Public policy networking and dialogue has to change and break out of the Whitehall and Westminster bubble. Policy Review Intelligence has the ambition to help remodel and transform the way Whitehall and Brussels based public policy networking and consultation takes place – connecting Westminster politics and Whitehall policy discussion live, interactively with cities and policy centres around the UK, as well as connecting to Brussels”.
Neil Stewart, Chief Executive of Neil Stewart Associates said:
“Policy Review Intelligence will have the resources of the Policy Review TV production unit for its seminars, roundtables and lectures as well as our face to face experience. We are investing in a new and dynamic website – providing a neutral policy and networking hub for public policy professionals and associations. The service will provide a space for professional and specialists public policy consultation and discussion - filling the gap between what is reported in traditional media and the more in-depth solutions-based and detailed analysis that senior policy makers and managers need around the country”.
8th June 2012
Caledonia Public Affairs partners up with Tartan Silk PR
Caledonia Public Affairs has announced that they will be joining forces with another influential Scottish company, Tartan Silk Public Relations, to enhance the opportunities they provide to their individual clients. They will operate from the same offices near the Scottish Parliament.
Caledonia Public Affairs was established in 2006 and their team specialises in public affairs, media communications and government relations. Company founder and director Devin Scobie has advised some of Europe's biggest corporations and over 30 of FTSE's Top 100 companies.
Tartan Silk, established by Martin Hunt in 1997, is one of Scotland’s leading and most respected public relations agencies. The company specialises in a wide range of areas, from luxury brands to social care, and has carried out numerous successful campaigns for their clients over the years.
Devin Scobie said: “Together, Caledonia and Tartan Silk make a rather special partnership. This move builds upon the appointment of Margaret Smith as a director of Caledonia Public Affairs earlier this year. Margaret’s formidable Holyrood experience, combined with Tartan Silk’s track record, make a unique cocktail which clients old and new are certain to benefit from.”
Martin Hunt said: “I see this as an exciting opportunity for a new type of business collaboration. It is not a merger. It is not an acquisition. It is a pooling of resources for the benefit of our clients”.
25th May 2012
DeHavilland EU's Predictive Trends Report finds strong support for a European Financial Transaction Tax
Based on a survey of Public Affairs professionals, this new report finds that the majority of respondents are in favour of a European Financial Transaction Tax. When asked the question ‘Do you agree with the introduction of an EU Financial Transaction Tax?’, a third ‘strongly agreed’ and 25% ‘slightly agreed’ with the statement. Helene Champagne, Director, DeHavilland EU said “We can see that there is a growing consensus over the importance of taxing the financial sector, but it’s difficult to see how the different positions at the European Council will be reconciled after the plenary vote. Many countries, such as the UK still feel that this is not the right tool, which means that it might be introduced in nine member countries first".
The report also found that respondents were significantly less enthusiastic towards the European Citizens’ Initiative - when asked if they were planning to make use of it, over 40% were ‘yet to make up their mind’ and the European External Action Service when asked how effective it would be, a third believed it would be ‘not very effective’ and 60% believed it would be ‘somewhat effective’. To find out further details on these findings, please download a complimentary copy of the report.
DeHavilland EU is a specialist provider of EU political intelligence and monitoring services.
17th May 2012
Gender Balance Survey Report published by Hanson Search and CIPR
‘Getting the Balance Right - a study into the impact of maternity leave on the communications industry and its implications for positive change has been published.
The Report was initiated by search and selection consultancy Hanson Search, in association with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and the survey was designed to provide insights for industry professionals regarding the challenges working mothers face and the issues surrounding maternity leave for their employers.
An independent Task Force geared to helping retain top talent within the comms industry and narrow the ever increasing gender diversity gap among senior women returning from maternity leave is being spear headed by the two organisations.
The comprehensive survey, which interviewed 550 women and men working within communications, revealed:
- 9.4% of employers felt they had serious reservations about hiring women aged between 30-40 years old fearing they would, at some point, fall pregnant
- 62% of employees feeling that they will be discriminated against if they were to become pregnant
- 49.3% of respondents HAVE observed issues or problems among colleagues directly related to their return from maternity leave, such as difficulty with flexible working hours (64.6%), reduction in perceived status (59.9%) and negotiating part-time employment (53.2%)
The survey further suggests women and, in particular, those in senior positions are considering seeking employment elsewhere if this issue is not addressed fairly (48.5%).
Alice Weightman, MD of Hanson Search explained “To help drive positive organisational change, it is critical that momentum continues – not only in helping retain top talent within the workplace but ultimately reducing the gender diversity gap among senior women returning from maternity leave. In doing so, it is imperative that we aim to encourage wider reaching networks and partnerships across like-minded organisations to share experiences/best practices and this will form the context of the Gender Balance Task Force, a central hub/collaborative of key stakeholders which provides a crucial resource/support for both employers and employees alike seeking workable advice and guidance.”
Jane Wilson, CEO of the CIPR said “Both employees and employers must be able to have honest and open conversations about how the requirements of the business can be balanced against the needs of the employee. In a 24/7 world of social media, rolling news and increasing disclosure, this probably matters more to our industry than most other professions. I’m confident that this joint piece of work will help provide a much needed framework for dialogue between employers and returning female employees.”
For further information about joining the Gender Balance Task Force please visit the Hanson Search website and the Report is available to download below.
11th May 2012
Coalition Government Mind Map: Insight Public Affairs
Two years ago today, Gordon Brown departed Downing Street marking the end of the Labour years, as David Cameron’s arrival heralded the dawn of a new era in British politics with the first coalition Government in 70 years. Promising to “govern in the national interest”, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats set out a coalition agreement the following day in the Downing Street Rose Garden.
The Coalition has certainly been through its fair share of growing pains since those early days in May 2010: a stagnating economy, bitter rows over the AV referendum, tensions surrounding NHS reforms, a clutch of Cabinet resignations, public negotiations in the lead up to the 2012 Budget, and twitchy backbenchers have all taken their toll. But what does the future hold? Has the Coalition run out of steam or will the next three years be as intense as the first two?
In order to help you navigate the Government’s future priorities and the issues that it will face, Insight Public Affairs has mapped out the headline policy drivers spanning: the economy; public service reform; localism; welfare reform; and, the international agenda. In the “mind map”, we provide a comprehensive assessment of the legislative, political and regulatory challenges that the Coalition must address going forwards.
Click here to download the document from the Insight Public Affairs website.