Call for Evidence
Call for written views
The Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee is seeking views on the operation of the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 ("the Lobbying Act").
The Lobbying Act makes provision for a public lobbying register in which organisations are required to record any instances of "regulated lobbying". In particular, the Act:
- defines what is meant by "regulated lobbying";
- makes provision for the establishment, maintenance and content of the lobbying register;
- makes provision for oversight and enforcement of the provisions in the Act;
- makes provision for Parliamentary guidance and a code of conduct.
The Act also makes provision for a committee of the Parliament to review the operation of the Act during the "review period" (from when the duty to register came into force on 12 March 2018 up to 12 March 2020). The committee must report on the review by March 2022. Further information is provided below (see Background to the review).
You are invited to submit written views to the Committee on the following questions—
1. In your view, what concerns was the Lobbying Act seeking to address?
2. Two years’ on, has the Lobbying Act addressed those concerns?
In particular, has the Act added value? If so, in what way? For example, has the Act improved transparency? Do you think it has changed the way lobbying is carried out?
3. Do you support a legislative approach to regulating lobbying activity? If so, why? If not, for what reason? Has your view on the value of a legislative approach changed since the commencement of the Lobbying Act?
Improvements without legislation
4. In your view, is the Lobbying Act working in the way it was intended? If not, why not? What needs to change to ensure that it is working as intended (i.e without making changes to the legislation)?
Improvements requiring legislative change
5. Could the legislation be improved in any way? If so, please indicate why and in what way?
In particular, do you have any views on whether the changes should be made to the following (please indicate why and in what way):
a. the Act covers lobbying to a Member of the Scottish Parliament, a member of the Scottish Government, a junior Scottish Minister, a law officer, a special adviser or the permanent secretary. Does the Act cover the right groups of decision makers?
b. the Act requires face-to-face communications, including via video conferencing and other similiar means, which are also regulated lobbying to be registered. Are these the right communications to capture?
c. the circumstances in which a person undertaking "regulated lobbying" is required to provide information, to be included in the register, about costs incurred by them when engaging in regulated lobbying.
Bill assumptions v. reality of the Act
6. Have assumptions made at the Bill’s introduction in its Financial Memorandum and Policy Memorandum and during its passage through Parliament held true (for example, on costs or impact) and, if not, why not?
Any other points
7. Are there any other issues you would like to raise in connection with the operation of the Lobbying Act?
Please note in is not necessary to answer every question.
Background to the review
Section 50 of the Lobbying Act makes provision for a committee of the Parliament to review the operation of the Act from when the duty to register came into force up to 12 March 2020. In carrying out the review, the Act provides that the committee must:
- take evidence from such persons as it considers appropriate;
- draft a report;
- consult on the draft report and any recommendations it makes; and
- prior to publishing its final report, have regard to any representations made to the committee on the draft report, and its recommendations.
The Committee is seeking views on the operation of the whole Act. However, section 50(4) of the Act highlights two specific areas where recommendations for change may be made. It provides that a final report may, in particular, make a recommendation to extend the circumstances in which the regulated lobbying is deemed to have taken place. This can be done by changing:
- the list of people who are considered to be lobbied in a regulated way;
- the way in which a communication considered to be regulated lobbying is made.
The Act provides that the committee may also recommend whether there should be changes to the circumstances in which a person undertaking regulated lobbying is required to provide information, to be included in the lobbying register, about costs incurred by the person when engaging in regulated lobbying.
How to submit your evidence
The deadline for sending written submissions is 5.00 pm on Friday 14 August 2020. If you have, or consider that you may have, any difficulty in responding by this deadline due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, please contact the clerking team at the details below.
In most cases we will publish your written submission on the Scottish Parliament's website. What you send us may be quoted in the Committee's report or in its Committee meetings. These are public meetings that are broadcast online.
If you wish to request that your submission be published without your name, please contact the clerking team at the following email address: [email protected]
Before making a submission, please read our privacy notice about submitting your views to a Committee. This tells you about how we process your personal data.
You can submit your views here: https://yourviews.parliament.scot/papls/lobbying-act-review
In addition to the call for evidence questions, organisations on the Lobbying Register will be invited to provide additional information about their lobbying and engagement activities.
If you cannot make a submission electronically and would like to send in a hard copy written submission, please contact the clerking team at the details below.
Impact of Covid-19 and next steps
Given the current exceptional circumstances and the uncertainty about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Committee will consider its approach to its next steps in September.
Should you require alternative formats of this information or further assistance in making a submission to the Committee, please do not hesitate to contact the clerking team of the Committee at [email protected]