As one of Wales’s leading Public Affairs companies, Deryn welcomes the debate in the National Assembly this week as a timely contribution to the discussion about openness in lobbying in Wales. We have been active in raising standards in this crucial area of political engagement, promoting the widest possible support for the Association of Professional Political Consultants’ code of practice. Naturally, we fully comply with the code, including the statutory registration obligations that are in place for the UK parliament and government.
While these regulations are welcome, Deryn has long argued that, in this devolved UK, the distinct character of the Welsh political environment demands its own solutions to the challenge of promoting transparency.
We believe that the Assembly and Government here should address what we consider to be a weakness in the Westminster model, that is, the lack of registration of in-house services. A strong, professionally delivered consultancy sector means that essential help in steering a path through the political process is available to organisations of relatively modest means. But such services are easily eclipsed where very large organisations can afford sufficient in-house capacity to undertake their own lobbying. If, as we would argue, the purpose of registration is to improve transparency, it seems counter-intuitive to exclude from the register practitioners who probably have the greatest resources available.
We would be pleased if this debate became the catalyst for an informed discussion which would, in turn, lead to a regulatory process which is fit for purpose, and which improves the process of government in Wales.