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Scottish Government must review lobbying law, MSPs say

Holyrood

Scottish Government must review lobbying law, MSPs say

MSPs have urged the Scottish Government to provide a full and comprehensive analysis of the Lobbying Act.

Holyrood’s Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee said the government should consider whether to extend the scope of the legislation to senior civil servants and a broader range of communication methods.

The Lobbying Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016, establishing the lobbying register which requires anyone engaged in such activity to declare it.

Only face-to-face lobbying (including video conferencing) is currently covered by the act. Phone calls and written and electronic communication do not have to be included in the register.

The register was launched in March 2018 and the act included a provision to have a parliamentary committee review the operation of the register two years after it came into force.

Convener Jenny Marra said: “The committee believes there is need for a broader assessment to judge whether or not the act has enhanced transparency in government decision making or parliament’s engagement in those processes.

“Further investigation would need to take place before any decisions were made on whether the act is good enough as it stands or whether it needs to be improved.”

The committee said there should be more guidance on exemptions and what forms of communication currently qualify as regulated lobbying.

It also suggested shortening the reporting timetable from six to three months, in line with international best practice.

These recommendations are included in a draft report from the committee which it is now consulting on before a final report is published, as required by the Lobbying Act.

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