Let air into lobby

I struggle to understand Gary Otton’s reply (Letters, 17 March) to my letter of last week in which I raised the issue of the lobbying of the Scottish Parliament and Government by organisations that are funded by the Scottish Government.

I think his position is that government should fund groups that cannot achieve charity status – but few would regard this as a reasonable proposition.

In my letter I gave the examples of Interfaith Scotland and the Equality Network – both of which are charities but which receive extensive financial support from the Scottish Government.

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I am sure that Tim Hopkins of the Network, being an experienced campaigner, is aware of the significance of websites and as of Sunday 16 March the Equality Network website did not appear to have copies of its annual report available.

Nor did the “About us” section explain its dependence on Scottish Government funds – views which are confirmed independently by another person.

Nor does the website explain the governance of the Network, such as its governing committee or other comparable arrangements. It would seem to be good practice for these deficiencies to be rectified.

Charity Commission records demonstrate that for the last annual reporting period the Network received funding of £360,000 from the Scottish Government and raised almost £50,000 from voluntary donations.

From my experience of the Scottish Government it requires agreed work plans as a basis of its grants to organisations.

It would not be responsible for it to dispense funds that did not have purposes in conformity with its policies.

From information on its website the Network seems to have a good track record in this respect.

But I wonder how many readers of these columns who saw letters in these columns about debates in relation to the recent same-sex marriage legislation realised that the Network was primarily supported by Scottish Government funds? There are numerous other bodies funded by Scottish Government grants that lobby parliament and government. There seems to be an issue related to the culture of 
Holyrood that requires further exploration and debate.

(Prof) Norman Bonney

Palmerston Place