On Friday, the Scottish Government published their long-awaited Lobbying Bill outlining plans for a lobbying register. We’ve been campaigning for a lobbying register in Scotland for more than two years, so we hoped that this bill would genuinely bring lobbying out into the open. The public should have the right to know who is lobbying our politicians, about what, and how.
Unfortunately, the proposed register falls far short of the goal of real transparency. Scotland’s lobbyists will be breathing a sigh of relief reading this bill. The register is full of handy loopholes for lobbyists:
it doesn’t cover lobbying of special advisers or civil servants
it only deals with face-to-face meetings, which is clearly out of date in the age of digital communication
and it won’t tell us anything about how much companies are spending on lobbying campaigns
We’ve teamed up with Spinwatch, ERS Scotland and other Scottish campaigns to push for a robust, comprehensive lobbying register. At SNP conference this year we launched Holyrood Exposed, a guide to lobbying in Scotland profiling the top lobbyists who are influencing politicians. Now the Bill has been published, we’ll be taking the campaign to the Scottish Parliament.
There will be plenty to do as the Bill passes through Holyrood. If we can close the loopholes in the lobbying register, Scotland could be a beacon of transparency for the rest of the UK. Otherwise it will be business as usual for the lobbying industry.
Can you help us keep up the pressure for real transparency? Please donate to our Open Up Lobbying Scotland campaign.
Check out the full press coverage of our reaction to the Bill’s publication:
Government’s lobbying bill “full of loopholes”, campaigners say
SNP lobbying register “almost pointless” after ministers water down proposals
Campaigners call for more transparency in political lobbying legislation