Committee Updates for August 2015
Scottish Government consultation: Proposals for a Lobbying Bill
We submitted our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposals for a statutory register of lobbying activity in Scotland. In the response, we reiterated the important and legitimate role of lobbying, and our support for full transparency of lobbying processes. However, the consultation did not ask two important questions – ‘what is a lobbyist’ and ‘what is meant by lobbying activity’. These are two fundamental questions which need to be answered to ensure that these terms are clearly and unambiguously defined in any future legislation, as they will be the basis upon which organisations will determine whether or not they will need to register. We also raised concerns around proposals for individuals rather than organisations to register, which goes against recommendations made by the Scottish Parliament’s Inquiry into Lobbying, which would place a greater administrative burden on organisations with a number of staff who regularly meet with parliamentarians. The proposals also seek to include only face to face meetings to be covered by the requirement to register. Telephone conversations, emails and video conferencing would be excluded. This seems at odds with the requirement for full transparency and openness and in our view opens the system up to criticism. If the Government’s aim is to increase transparency and public confidence, then we have submitted that Ministerial diaries and minutes of meetings between Ministers and MSPs should also be included.
Read our full response