Wednesday, 19 May 2010

In Defence of Self-Regulation

Paul Bradshaw asks on twitter why we disagree with the Government's proposal to become heavily involved in the regulation of public affairs professionals. In particular, he asks how we can 'reasonably' do so. Well, the question having been posed, let me attempt an answer.

The PRCA -along with the two other relevant professional bodies- agrees that transparency and accountability are central to the practice of public affairs. That is why PRCA members have, for many years, adhered to a rigorous Code of Conduct, and declared regularly the names of their clients and the names of their employees. The same goes for APPC members too. There is nothing secretive here, and the people who pretend otherwise are very often just engaged in wishful thinking to support their own theories.

This accountability and transparency is further being enhanced by the creation of one unified register under the Public Affairs Council, constituted by the three main bodies. This Council will be chaired by an independent person of stature, who will be supported by other Independent Board Members. The identities of those people will very soon be made public, the exhaustive recruitment process having been completed two days ago.

Having set that context, let me address the main issue. Government regulation should be proportionate, effective, and better than the thing it replaces. Where self-regulation exists and works, it should be allowed to continue. That holds true for any normal activity, not just public affairs. It applies to blogging, tweeting, even journalism for that matter. And existing public affairs regulation does indeed work.

We are not nihilists -we will continue to work calmly and reasonably with all parties to make our points. And if the Government does decide to amend the current regulatory system, and legislatively to prioritise such a change, then we will work with them to make it as effective and proportionate as possible. But the key point is this -it is those who scream 'something must be done', and urge the dismantling of a system that works already, who are not acting 'reasonably'.

1 comment:

  1. I'm still in the dark a little here - what self-regulation currently exists, and how does the regulation proposed differ? What is the problem that regulation seeks to solve? And while you talk here about PR, it was lobbying specifically that I was interested in: how are they or should they be treated differently?
    Thanks for starting this.