Lobbying Bill to include video-conference meetings with MSPs
Plans to include video-conference communications with MSPs in the Lobbying Bill will improve transparency says the Law Society of Scotland.
Brian Simpson, Policy officer at the Law Society said: “Lobbying is an important and legitimate activity, which helps to inform parliamentarians in their role as lawmakers, and we believe that communications between lobbyists and MSPs should be as transparent as possible.
“We stated in our written evidence that the bill should include other forms of communications beyond face-to-face meetings if it was to meet the Scottish Government's stated policy aims of ensuring transparency and openness. We’re pleased therefore that the bill has been amended today, Thursday 5 February, to include virtual meetings held using video-conferencing technology.
“We believe this could have been further extended to include all forms of communications including letters, emails and phone calls, however this is very much a step in the right direction in improving transparency and public confidence.
“We’re also pleased that the bill will include communications with special advisers in addition to government ministers and that the definition of special advisers has been clarified within the bill.”
“Amendments which will require the Scottish Parliament to publish guidance on the operation the Act, will help to ensure that all those who wish to lobby or engage with MSPs are fully aware and understand their responsibilities and obligations or registration.”
The Lobbying (Scotland) Bill proposes to introduce a statutory register of lobbying activity in Scotland and the publication of a code of conduct.
The Law Society’s written evidence and stage 1 briefing paper are available to read on the website.
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