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Increasing transparency around lobbying

Proposals for a lobbying register for the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Government has launched its consultation on proposals for establishing a register of those lobbying Members of the Scottish Parliament, including Ministers, yesterday.

The Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee conducted an inquiry into lobbying and published its findings earlier this year. The Government has taken full account of the Committee’s recommendations and now invites comment from interested parties on all aspects of the Government’s proposals.

This consultation will inform the Bill which will be introduced during the current parliamentary session.

The majority of views expressed by the Committee, are consistent with the Government’s three core policy principles for underpinning reform in this area, and assessing the merits of any lobbying registration regime.

These are:

  • To avoid any erosion of the Parliament’s principles of openness, ease-of-access and accountability. Reforms must adhere to the Parliament’s founding principles and not restrict the legitimate activities of non-party political organisations engaging in public policy.
  • That any proposed measures must complement existing frameworks - for example, the Interest of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006, the MSP Code of Conduct, the Ministerial code and public registers of ministerial meetings.
  • To deliver a proportionate solution, simple in its operation and which commands broad support within and outwith the Parliament.

Minister for Parliamentary Business, Joe FitzPatrick, said:

“The Scottish Parliament already has strict rules around lobbying activity, but it is important that we act now to put beyond doubt any question of lobbying impropriety in Scotland and increase transparency.

“We are very pleased to be launching this consultation and recognise that this is a polarised area with many divergent views. We will seek to obtain cross-party consensus for improving the transparency of lobbying practice, working with all political parties and a wide range of stakeholders.

“The Government welcomes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s contribution to delivering consensus on this issue within the Parliament and we are open to any suggestions on how legislation can be further improved. I look forward to contributions from the wider public on how best we take forward the registration scheme and ensure that lobbying in the future is as open and transparent as possible.”

Notes To Editors

View consultation at:

The Government’s proposed Lobbying Transparency Bill seeks to:

  • Establish a register of both ‘consultant lobbyists’ (those engaged to lobby on behalf of another individual or organisation) and in-house lobbyists (employees who lobby as part of their work).
  • Oblige individuals to register (i.e. individual lobbyists, not ‘lobbying firms’ or commercial or other organisations which employ ‘in-house lobbyists’) before lobbying MSPs and Ministers. The focus though is only on individuals who are paid to lobby.
  • Require lobbyists to register before lobbying MSPs and Ministers and to submit periodic returns of lobbying activity.
  • Provide that ‘Lobbying’ in this context means face to face engagement with MSPs and Ministers (e.g. ‘in person’ meetings, events, other hospitality) – in line with the relevant Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee report – and not other communication (e.g. letters, emails, telephone calls, video conferences) with MSPs/Ministers.
  • Provide that the Clerk of Parliament oversee the registration regime, including monitoring compliance.
  • Establish a thorough and proportionate enforcement regime. The Clerk oversees compliance and the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland investigates possible breaches. Parliament would have power to impose sanctions - with criminal offences and penalties also a feature.
  • Offer the Parliament the power, by resolution, to modify the registration regime and to make additional provision in connection with its operation. Resolutions would require to be published in the same way as SSIs.
  • Require that the Parliament publish a Code of Conduct for lobbyists.


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