Scotland’s lobbying register to go live in March
Meetings with ministers, MSPs and special advisers will have to be included in Scotland’s new register of lobbying from next March, it has been announced.
The new lobbying register, set up by the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016, will begin on Monday 12 March 2018.
The Acting Lobbying Registrar, Douglas Wands, said the aim was to increase openness and transparency.
“All face to face lobbying activity as defined in the act will need to be registered,” he said.
“Whilst this may seem like a big change, we have been working for many months with those who may be affected to ensure they are aware of what is required.”
A ‘familiarisation period’ begins today, during which people will be expected to familiarise themselves with the register’s website.
When the bill was passed Joe Fitzpatrick said: “The new arrangements should be proportionate and simple in their operation, and they should command broad support within and outwith the Parliament.”
But Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who had introduced a member’s bill on lobbying early last parliament, said the new regulations do not go far enough.
“The Government has no interest in enhancing the principles of openness, transparency and accountability that the Parliament was supposedly founded upon,” he said.
This summer a number of journalists and campaign groups called on the Scottish Government to review its transparency after it emerged freedom of information requests from journalists were refused or delayed at a higher rate than from other groups.