A Consultation on Proposals for a Lobbying Transparency Bill: Analysis of Written Responses

A consultation paper was published in May 2015 seeking views on proposals for a lobbying transparency bill. This report provides an analysis of the responses received.


1.1. This report presents the findings of an analysis of written responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on proposals for a lobbying bill.


1.2. The Scottish Government is currently proposing the introduction of a register of lobbyists who engage directly with Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and Scottish Ministers.

1.3. In considering this issue, and developing proposals, the Scottish Government is not aware of any allegations of impropriety about the lobbying of MSPs since the Scottish Parliament conducted its last inquiry into the subject in 2002. It has also made it clear that both the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament recognise lobbying as a legitimate democratic activity, and one which is likely to lead to improved government, as a result of a wider range of voices being channelled into legislative processes.

1.4. The Scottish Government believes, however, that the time is right to consider whether there is a need to increase the transparency of lobbying activity in Scotland. One of the reasons for this, identified in the consultation document[1], is that Scotland's constitutional position is changing. It is suggested in the document that increased responsibility and greater powers for the Scottish Parliament could lead to increased lobbying.

1.5. The Scottish Government considers that increased transparency of lobbying activity, by making available information not currently in the public domain, could lead to:

  • Increased public understanding of the nature of lobbying in Scotland.
  • Increased public confidence in decision making.
  • Further strengthening of the integrity and reputation of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government.

1.6. The Scottish Parliament's Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee[2] held an inquiry into lobbying, and reported in February 2015[3]. This consultation was carried out to explore these issues further. The Committee's recommendations were considered in the development of the Scottish Government's proposals and the consultation document.

1.7. It is anticipated that the consultation findings, summarised in this report, will help to inform the provisions of a future lobbying bill.

The Consultation

1.8. The consultation ran from 29th May 2015 until 24th July 2015. The consultation document was published online on the Scottish Government website. It asked 20 questions. Some of these questions asked respondents to express their agreement or disagreement with the Scottish Government's proposals, while others asked for their more general views on a particular issue. All of the questions were open, providing an opportunity for respondents to give further information.

1.9. The consultation explored views on:

  • The basis of a register (Qs 1-4)
  • Who and what should be covered by the register (Qs 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10).
  • Information, reporting and conduct (Qs 11, 12, 13 and 14).
  • Maintenance, enforcement and changes relating to the register (Qs 15, 16 and 17).
  • The impacts on equalities groups and businesses (Qs 18 and 19) and other relevant issues not covered by the specific questions (Q 20).

1.10. A full list of the questions is provided at Appendix 1.

1.11. A response form was provided on which respondents could record their answers, and they were also asked to complete a Respondent Information Form (RIF) giving their own details.

Submissions and respondents

1.12. A total of 68 written submissions were received to the consultation[4]. The types of respondent are set out in Table 1 (below).

Table 1. Respondents by category

Category No. %[5]
Third sector 26 38
Private sector Trade Associations / membership groups[6] 14 21
Lobbying industry 9 13
Trade Unions / professional organisations 7 10
Campaigning organisations / groups 6 9
Public bodies 3 4
Private sector companies[7] 2 3
Individuals 1 1
Total 68

1.13. As is clear from the table, the largest number of responses was from Third Sector organisations, with more than a third (26) from this type of respondent. Responses from private sector Trade Associations / membership groups were also common, with around a fifth of responses (14) received from them. Responses were also received from a number of lobbying industry organisations (9); Trade Unions / professional organisations (7); and campaigning organisations / groups (6). A small number of responses were received from public bodies (3) and other private sector companies (2). One individual submitted a response.

1.14. The majority of respondents addressed the specific questions and followed the format of the response form, although not all of them addressed all of the questions. A total of 10 respondents did not follow the form, and provided their response either at Question 20 or in a separate document. One respondent requested that their response be treated as confidential. The material from the response has been included anonymously in the analysis. In line with Scottish Government policy, the name of the respondent has been included in the list at Appendix 2.

1.15. There was a high level of response to each of the questions, with over three quarters of respondents addressing almost all of them. Most of the questions were addressed by around four in five (or more) of the respondents. There was a particularly high level of response (around nine in ten) to:

  • Question 1 (the core principles).
  • Question 2 (the introduction of a register).
  • Question 4 (the onus for registration).
  • Question 6 (possible exemptions).
  • Question 8 (the types of communication that should be covered by a register).
  • Question 9 (the registration of paid lobbyists).

1.16. The question addressed by the lowest number of respondents was Question 18 (the identification of any equalities impacts of the proposals).

Structure of the report

1.17. Chapter 2 provides a brief description of the approach taken to the analysis.

1.18. The remainder of the report then presents the findings of the analysis relating to each of the following areas:

  • The basis of a register (Chapter 3).
  • Who and what should be covered by the register (Chapter 4).
  • Information, reporting and conduct (Chapter 5).
  • Maintenance, enforcement and changes (Chapter 6).
  • Equalities and business impacts and other issues (Chapter 7).


Email: Sophie Ellison

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