Regulatory Review Group minutes: February 2016

Minutes from the meeting of the Regulatory Review Group (RRG) on the 17 February 2016.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Professor Russel Griggs (Chairman), CBI
  • David Martin, Scottish Retail Consortium
  • Mirren Kelly, COSLA
  • Scott Walker, NFUS
  • Steven Bunch, CMA
  • Stuart Mackinnon, FSB
  • Lorraine King, Scottish Government (Agenda Item 3)
  • Marion McCormack, Scottish Government
  • Sandra Reid, Scottish Government
  • Wendy McCutcheon, Scottish Government


  • Alice Telfer, ICAS
  • Sheila Scobie, CMA
  • Garry Clark, Scottish Chambers of Commerce
  • Glenn Preston, Scotland Office
  • Stephen Boyd, STUC
  • Ian Cass, Forum of Private Business
  • Sarah Smith, BRDO
  • Susan Love, Federation of Small Businesses
  • George Eckton, COSLA
  • Mari Tunby, CBI

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Agenda item 1 – Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes were approved and an update on action points provided.

Agenda item 2 – Chairman’s report

The Chair provided an oral update on recent meetings listed in the tabled paper. The Better Regulation Event in Brussels was well attended and feedback has intimated that this was a worthwhile and successful event.

The Chair highlighted the meeting on 25 February with the Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs. This meeting is to discuss the RRG report on the review of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.

The Chair then took the opportunity to discuss BRIAs. As had been highlighted in the Workplan paper at the meeting of May 2015, the BRIA process had changed within the Scottish Government and that the centralised quality assurance service provided by the BRIA team ceased. Marion McCormack explained that each Directorate was now responsible for the quality assurance and monitoring of BRIAs. One of the main reasons for this change was that BRIAs should now be embedded within policy culture.

The Chair expressed concerns about the loss of central information on BRIAs completed, and RRG members had concerns that the completion of BRIAs is not embedded throughout the Scottish Government, and seek reassurance from Scottish Government that BRIAs are being completed and to a high standard. It was also suggested that a BRIA Champion should be appointed.

Marion McCormack advised that she would ensure that these comments were fed in to the next Scottish Government Directors’ Group meeting and seek feedback. It would also be helpful if RRG members were able to provide evidence based examples of where they believed BRIAs hadn’t been completed.

Action points:

  • Secretariat to advise Scottish Government Directors’ Group of RRG concerns regarding BRIAs
  • RRG members to provide evidence based examples of where a BRIA wasn’t completed

Agenda item 3 – Disruptive technologies and the sharing economy

This agenda item also incorporated discussion around agenda item 4. The Chair introduced this agenda item by providing a background to RRG’s involvement in this area of work – namely that the Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism had written to RRG Chair asking that RRG look at digital disruption models such as Airbnb more closely. Lorraine King of the Consumer and Competition Policy Unit has produced a paper of areas of proposed work which could be undertaken by the Scottish Government and makes reference to the potential work of RRG.

The Chair advised that a meeting with key sector contacts at Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland had been arranged for 29 March. The purpose of this meeting will be to explore the sectors that are more exposed to digital disruption, the outcome of which will inform the remit and priorities of the workplan.

Lorraine provided an overview of the paper that the Consumer and Competition Policy Unit had been working on which included a proposed package of work.

Of interest to RRG is how do we ensure a level playing field / fairness between traditional markets and these newer digital markets in the regulatory framework. Consideration would also need to be given to the speed of change of both technology and companies operating in certain areas and how regulation, etc needs to be able to respond quicker.

Scott Walker provided information on work in Brussels. A ‘big data’ group has been established and is looking at who owns data on certain farming machinery where this is automatically collected ie combine harvesters, the issues of which are not dissimilar to the larger piece of UK Government work around data sharing.

It was agreed that disruptive technologies and sharing economy was a vast area of work and that there was a need for a tight focus for the review.

It was also agreed that RRG would use the terminology ‘new business models’.

Action points:

  • RRG Chair to respond to the Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism’s letter

Agenda item 4 – Review of shared economy regulatory landscape

This item was discussed under agenda item 3.

Agenda item 5 – Voluntary regulation review – Supporting Healthy Choices Voluntary Framework – scoping paper

At the last RRG meeting it was agreed that RRG would review Supporting Healthy Choices Voluntary Framework as RRG’s first review of voluntary regulation. A scoping paper had been produced for discussion at this meeting. The Chair asked David Martin what exactly we should be looking for in carrying out this review – especially as this is an on-going Framework. David suggested that the starting point should be whether or not the voluntary regulation achieved the intended outcome – this would involve ascertaining what the Government was trying to achieve and the associated outcomes; why choose voluntary regulation – were any other options looked at; and processes learned.

Scott Walker suggested a piece of completed voluntary regulation that RRG could review in tandem to provide an holistic overview. Scott suggested a review of the voluntary regulation for nitrate vulnerable zones which was subsequently statutory designated. This was agreed and Scott will provide secretariat with the relevant information.

Action points:

  • Scott Walker to provide secretariat with information on nitrate vulnerable zones
  • Secretariat to update scoping paper accordingly

Agenda item 6 – RRG annual report

The RRG Annual Report is currently in final draft stage. It will be circulated round members for comments with the intention to publish before the pre-election period of 23 March 2016.

Action points:

  • Secretariat to circulate RRG Annual Report around members for comment

Agenda item 7 – Forthcoming agendas

The agendas for February and March were discussed and noted.

Agenda item 8 – AOB

Several items of AOB were raised:

Chair shared a letter of thanks he, and members of the Geothermal Energy Expert Group, had received from Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism thanking them for fulfilling the remit of the group.

Secretariat provided read out of update received on progress of the Lobbying Bill. Read out is at Annex A. RRG still has concerns over the contents of this Bill such as are working groups included as lobbyists – this would include events such as Business in Parliament. Following discussion, it was agreed that RRG would write to the Minister for Parliamentary Business outlining RRG’s concerns in relation to the Parliamentary process, using the Lobbying Bill as an example.

Secretariat provided an update on meeting attended of the Rural Affairs, Food and Environment (RAFE) Delivery Board which is taking forward recommendations in the Brian Pack report “doing better initiative to reduce red tape for farmers and rural land managers”. The Board appreciated the work of RRG but stated that they own all the recommendations in the report and will be responsible for implementation. They did not think that there should be any cross-over between their work and the work of RRG. RRG agreed that a meeting should be arranged between the Chairs of the Group to discuss further.

Scott Walker advised that there are on-going discussions regarding flooding with SEPA. The Chair stated that he would meet with Chair of SEPA to discuss in more detail.

Action points:

  • RRG Chair to write to Minister for Parliamentary Business regarding the Lobbying Bill
  • Secretariat to arrange meeting between Prof Griggs, Trudi Sharp and Jonathan Pryce regarding the work of the RAFE Delivery Board
  • Secretariat to arrange meeting with Prof Griggs and SEPA CEO to discuss issues around flooding


Lobbying (Scotland) Bill

Stage 2 proceedings took place on Thursday 4 February. In summary:

All Government amendments were agreed to (extending definition of face to face communication to included video-conferencing, Skype, etc; inclusion of Special Advisers as lobbyees; exception of communications from Trade Unions or employers in respect of terms and conditions of employment; reframing the initiated meetings exception to only cover requests for factual information; place a duty on the Parliament to review the operation of the resulting Act once it has been in operation for 2 years).

Certain non-Government policy amendments were not agreed to (to broadly extend the definition of lobbyees; to include written communications as a trigger for registration and for lobbyists to register details of their past employment).

The Government was supportive of Cameron Buchanan’s amendments (29 and 30) to place a duty on the Parliament to publish guidance on the register and those amendments were agreed to.

The Government signalled its support in principle for, and willingness to give further consideration in advance of Stage 3 to:

  • the establishment of a threshold to exempt ‘de-minimis’ lobbying
  • inclusion of senior civil service (all or in part) as lobbyees
  • a requirement for the Parliament to make available information to promote awareness and understanding of the resulting Act

Stage 3 is expected to take place in mid-March.

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