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Lobbying comes under Holyrood scrutiny

30 September 2013

A Holyrood committee is to conduct an inquiry into lobbying in Scotland to determine whether there is a problem, either actual or perceived, with the practice.

The Standards, Procedures & Public Appointments Committee (SPPA) is also to consider what steps might be needed to improve transparency, and whether the introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists would help address any such problem.

Its investigation comes in the wake of the Scottish Government’s indication in June this year that it intends to introduce legislation on the subject before the next Holyrood elections in 2016. This followed a proposal for a member's bill by Neil Findlay MSP.

The remit for the inquiry is:

"To examine whether there is a problem, either actual or perceived, with lobbying and, if so, how this can most effectively be addressed;

"To what extent a register of lobbyists would help with this process, who such a register should cover and how it would be operated in practice; and

"Whether other steps might be needed to improve probity and transparency in this area."

Launching a call for evidence from interested parties, Helen Eadie MSP, deputy convener of the committee, said: “Throughout this inquiry our committee will examine the issue of lobbying and access to MSPs.

“Our main focus will be whether there is a problem, either actual or perceived, with lobbying in Scotland, and what steps should be taken to address any issues that are identified.

“The committee would therefore like to receive views on these issues. In particular the committee seeks views on a proposed statutory register of lobbyists, who should be on such a list, how it would operate and whether other steps might be needed to ensure integrity and public confidence in the decision-making process.”

Click here to view the call for evidence. Responses should be received by 10 January 2014.

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill is currently being scrutinised by the UK Parliament. It would provide for individuals and companies lobbying ministers and civil servants having to declare who they represented. The bill has been criticised as poorly drafted.

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