Minister welcomes growth of lobbying in Wales

David Cornock
Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

Lobbyists haven't had the best of times lately, with senior ministers threatening to regulate their activities more closely after several stories suggesting David Cameron's 2010 prophecy may come true.

So there will be relief, if not joy, in lobbying circles at a speech to be made by a UK government minister.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Randerson will tell a gathering of lobbyists tonight - eating under the umbrella of Public Affairs Cymru - that she welcomes the growth of what she calls "the public affairs profession" in Wales.

The Wales Office minister will endorse the Welsh assembly's rejection of the idea of a statutory register of lobbyists - one of the reforms put forward by her own coalition government for the regulation of lobbyists in Westminster.

She'll tell diners that the growth of the Welsh lobbying industry "is a sign that Wales really is being considered in its own right" and welcome the increase in the number of charities doing public relations in Wales. I suspect not everyone who gives to charity wants their donations to be spent on lobbying - ("£50 buys lunch for a lobbyist - please give generously") - but I may be wrong.

She will say: "As a peer I am lobbied every day one way or another. But the infant Welsh assembly with its fresh, new AMs was almost totally free of that in the early days.

"The public affairs profession has grown rapidly in Wales in the last 15 years. The outward and visible sign of this is that almost every charity now has at least a branch here in Wales and puts Cymru after its name, and either does its own PR in Wales or employs another company to do it for them.

"This is strongly to be welcomed. It is a sign that Wales really is being considered in its own right."

Lady Randerson will also congratulate Public Affairs Cymru "for its part in ensuring that PR companies in Wales had operated in recent years according to a voluntary code of conduct".

"The register of lobbyists planned for London was rejected by the recent Assembly Committee report as not necessary," she will say. "I have no reason to doubt that judgement and long may it last."