The Scottish Lobbying Act
It has been described as the “greatest structural change to Scottish political engagement since devolution”, but are businesses prepared for the introduction of the Scottish Lobbying Act?
The CBI has held several events in Scotland and in London to help members prepare for the Lobbying (Scotland) Act which comes into force on 12 March 2018. But at the London event, Andrew Henderson, director of public policy at Pinsent Masons, warned that awareness of the act remained low – and once companies are aware of it, concern centres on the fact there is a lot to learn to understand the Act and its requirements and exemptions in time.
In essence, the Act will impact on any individual or business that engages in ‘regulated lobbying’.
Regulated lobbying includes activity, formal or informal, which takes place face-to-face with members of the Scottish parliament, special advisers or the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary and which relates to Scottish Government or parliamentary functions. From 12 March, individuals or businesses engaged in regulated lobbying will be required to register their activities on a new online lobbying register.
This will require businesses to have visibility on all engagement with these figures across their organisation, not just those who have explicit lobbying responsibilities – and many firms will likely need to seek advice to clarify any grey areas that affect them.
In the run up to the Act coming into force, the Scottish Lobbying Registrar’s team have produced a 5-step guide to help businesses establish whether or not what they are doing constitutes ‘regulated lobbying’ under the terms of the Act.
To find out more about the Lobbying Act and its implications for your business, why not listen to our latest podcast. Andrew Henderson of Pinsent Masons and Lobbying Registrar Dougie Wands join CBI’s governance manager Chris Kelly to go through the finer details.
A trend towards openness
The Scottish Lobbying Act follows a trend towards increased openness around political lobbying. In Ireland, the Lobbying Act came into effect in September 2015 to increase transparent lobbying and in June 2016 the Welsh assembly asked the Standards of Conduct Committee to look at lobbying in Wales. Looking forward and following the 5 recommendations made by committee, the Welsh assembly will revisit the topic once there has been a review of the Scottish system.
Ultimately, the Scottish Lobbying Act will increase transparency in how businesses engage with key political stakeholders in Scotland. With the right procedures in place, businesses will be able to continue to engage effectively and ensure that their voice is heard in the policy making process.
For more information on the Act please contact Hannah.Collins@cbi.org.uk
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