Lobbying (Scotland) Bill call for evidence

The Standards Procedures and Public Appointments Committee invites your views on the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill, in anticipation of its referral to the Committee. 

The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 29 October 2015. The Bill and accompanying documents are available on the Parliament’s website at:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/93324.aspx

The purpose of the Bill is to increase public transparency of the interactions between lobbyists and elected representatives and Government Ministers.

The Bill follows the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s recent inquiry into lobbying, which culminated in a series of recommendations for the establishment of a register of lobbying. All the documents associated with this inquiry, including the report of the Committee’s findings can be found here:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/68068.aspx

According to the Bill’s Policy Memorandum—

“The overarching objective of the Bill is to introduce a measured and proportionate register of lobbying activity. The register would then complement existing parliamentary and governmental transparency mechanisms.”

“The Government recognises the significance of public access to Parliament. One of the Parliament's founding principles was that it should be "accessible, open, responsive, and should develop procedures which make possible a participative approach to the development, consideration and scrutiny of policy and legislation.”

“The Government is clear that provision on lobbying transparency should not infringe on this principle, which it deems both essential and beneficial to policy making in Scotland.”

What the Committee would like your views on

The Committee’s role at Stage 1 of the parliamentary process is to report to the Parliament on the general principles of the Bill – that is, on its overall purpose.

The Committee invites you to answer some or all of the questions below to help it in scrutinising the Bill.  You do not have to answer all the questions.

General Principles

1.    Do you agree that the Bill is necessary and that the establishment of a Lobbying Register is desirable?

2.    How will the Bill affect you or your organisation?

3.    Registration is triggered only when lobbying is being done in exchange for payment (either as a consultant or an employee) and does not capture lobbying carried out in the course of voluntary work or when it is done by an individual on his or her own behalf. Do you agree with this approach?

4.    Do the provisions set out in the Bill succeed in striking a balance between capturing information of value and ensuring that access and participation with the work of Parliament and Government is not discouraged?

5.    Do you feel that the definitions and exclusions are sufficiently clear? Do they, for example, allow individuals and organisations to easily know whether their activity requires to be registered?

6.    The Bill’s Policy Memorandum states the Bill aims for a “light touch, educative approach” and that “criminal offences and penalties [are] provided for as a last resort”. What are your views on this approach?

7.    Are there any unforeseen consequences of the Bill as currently drafted?

8.    Are there any amendments that would, in your view, enhance the Bill?

The Committee will also take account of the views expressed in response to its initial inquiry and the Government’s consultation. 

How to submit your views

The closing date for responses is 30 November 2015. All responses should be sent to the Committee clerks at sppa.committee@scottish.parliament.uk

Alternatively, you may use the following address—

Clerk to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee

Room TG.01
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP 

If you are making a submission in written format, we would prefer to receive it in Microsoft Word.

Responses will be handled in accordance with the Parliament’s policy for the treatment of evidence.  This information is available in various formats, including BSL video, on the Parliament’s website at: www.scottish.parliament.uk/treatment-of-evidence

What happens next?

At the same time as gathering written responses to its questions about the Bill, the Committee will be hearing from a number of witnesses in person on 12 November 2015. 

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill or how you can give your views on it, you can contact the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee clerks by emailing sppa.committee@scottish.parliament.uk or by calling 0131 348 5177.  Textphone users can contact us on 0800 092 7100.

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