Scottish Parliament expected to pass lobbying bill

The bill had its origins in a Member's Bill lodged by Labour MSP Neil Findlay. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The bill had its origins in a Member's Bill lodged by Labour MSP Neil Findlay. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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LEGISLATION to increase transparency around the lobbying of politicians is expected to be passed.

MSPs will debate the Scottish Government’s Lobbying Bill before a final vote on the proposals at Holyrood.

The Bill will introduce a register of lobbying activity that would require organisations to declare face-to-face contact with MSPs and ministers.

It had its origins in a Member’s Bill lodged by Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who has said the government proposals need “radical amendment” to make them fit for purpose.

Mr Findlay and campaigners have called for the legislation to be extended to cover electronic communications, a move ministers say could deter engagement with the parliament.

Speaking before the stage 3 debate, Parliamentary Business Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “In Scotland there are already strict rules around lobbying in our Parliament but it is important we do all we can to increase transparency.

READ MORE: MSPs lobbying bill to cover texts and emails

“The Government has maintained that the Bill should deliver a proportionate approach for the registration of lobbying activity in Scotland.

“Our aim is to secure transparency whilst respecting the openness and accessibility of the Scottish Parliament, something for which Scotland has a proud reputation.”

The Scottish Government has proposed an amendment to exempt communications by organisations with fewer than 10 employees.

Mr FitzPatrick added: “During the Bill’s process through Parliament there has been careful consideration of the potential impact both on constituency matters and on smaller organisations.

“This is why we have proposed an exemption from registering for organisations communicating, on their own behalf, who have less than 10 full-time equivalent employees.

“That exception would not extend to representative groups as the intention is to offer latitude to smaller organisations seeking to engage on their own behalf.”

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